<
>

Steelers save surprises for practice squad

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers did not unveil any major surprises when they released their 53-man roster on Saturday.

They did with their 10-man practice squad.

Among the players they signed on Sunday were former U.S. Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva and C.J. Goodwin, who joined the team in June following a recommendation from former Steelers great Mel Blount.

Villanueva, who has an incredible back story, worked out for the Steelers last Wednesday after getting released by the Philadelphia Eagles. Villanueva is listed as an offensive lineman by the Steelers after trying to make the Eagles as a defensive end.

He is an intriguing prospect and not just because Villanueva, who is 25, served three tours in Afghanistan before retiring from the Army so he could pursue a career in the NFL.

Villanueva played multiple positions at Army and was so versatile and athletic that he lined up primarily at wide receiver in his final season at West Point and led the team in receiving.

The Steelers will apparently try to develop Villanueva as an offensive linemen and he will work daily with Mike Munchak, one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL

Like Villanueva, Goodwin was among the players cut early last week when teams had to trim their rosters from 90 to 75.

Goodwin is raw, having played only two years of college football and not even at the Division I level. But he is incredibly athletic with a vertical leap of almost 50 inches, and the Steelers liked Goodwin enough to take him to training camp after he took part in organized team activities and minicamp in June.

Blount, the Hall of Fame cornerback, had recommended Goodwin to the Steelers because of his athleticism and mental makeup.

Goodwin went to a private high school in West Virginia with Blount’s son and has also worked at the home Blount runs for disadvantaged children.