With an already thin linebacker corps further weakened by injuries, the Pittsburgh Steelers have added an old rival with whom the team is very familiar, signing former Cincinnati Bengals part-time starter Adrian Ross to a one-year contract.
Contract details were not available Sunday, but it is doubtful Ross will earn much more than the NFL minimum, despite drawing interest from several other teams. Ross was released by the Bengals on July 23, principally because his salary was too large for a backup player.
Ironically, when the Bengals also suffered some injuries at linebacker, they attempted to re-sign Ross to a more palatable deal. Three linebackers went down for the Bengals last week, including starter Kevin Hardy, with injuries of varying severity.
A six-year veteran whose resume includes 34 starts among his 90 career appearances, Ross figures to be welcomed by the Pittsburgh coaches. The Steelers released longtime starter Jason Gildon in July but his projected replacement, Clark Haggans, broke his hand just before camp began and is expected to miss several weeks.
Youngster Alonzo Jackson, a second-round pick in 2003 who played in just two games as a rookie, was to fill in for Haggans, but is still recovering from a bad back that plagued him last year, so the Steelers have been struggling to get by early in camp.
Part of the reason Ross accepted the Steelers' offer was that two of his former Colorado State teammates, Haggans and star weakside linebacker Joey Porter, are with the team. In addition, former Bengals coach Dick LeBeau, under whom Ross played some of the best football of his career, is now the Pittsburgh defensive coordinator.
"He knows me, he knows my strengths, and he'll put my in a position where I can make some plays," Ross said. "I'm looking forward to it."
Ross, 29, has 147 career tackles, three sacks, three forced fumbles, one interception and nine passes defensed.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.