Football can be a tough battle with two parts skill and one part luck to ‘make it’ in this game. For Pittsburgh Steelers OG Nik Embernate, that one part luck went south when he blew out his knee during training camp last season. And, as of Thursday morning, his luck (as far as concerned with the Steelers) ran totally out when he was released by the team.
Embernate gained popularity while he was in camp last season. He was gritty and tough and earned the nickname “Embernasty” during those weeks in Latrobe. He was by far one of the better UDFA’s to come through camp in quite some time, and began to restore some faith in the front office’s ability to find players in that market. Some considered him close to finding his way onto the 53-man roster before his injury sidelined him for the entire 2013 season.
Embernate worked hard during his recovery, and as of this past March, seemed in good spirits about his ability to return. The team, however, felt differently and the two parted ways. The Steelers quickly signed OL Emmanuel McCray out of Mississippi to fill the roster spot. I’m going to have to chalk this one up as something to do with Ebernate’s knee recovery. I seriously doubt they released him because he didn’t have the right attitude or skill level to give him a shot again at camp. It’s hard to believe that they made this swap solely because of McCray’s availability after the Rams released him earlier this month. Team doctors may not have liked how his knee recovery went after a solid 10 months off, and raised some red flags to the coaches.
Best of luck to “Embernasty” wherever he might end up, NFL or elsewhere.