Fan Favorite Brian Arnfelt’s Promotion Could Be A Short One

By Matthew Marczi

The Pittsburgh Steelers quietly announced yesterday afternoon that they promoted rookie undrafted free agent defensive end Brian Arnfelt from the practice squad to the active roster, releasing linebacker Kion Wilson in the process.

They did so quietly, of course, because it really is an insignificant move, and very well could be a one-week stay. His signing was likely prompted due to skepticism regarding the availability of nose tackle Steve McLendon to suit up tonight.

We already speculated last week that he might be promoted before it was learned that McLendon would give it a go, but now that he has been promoted this week, the speculation is that McLendon will be taking a seat.

Thus, if either McLendon or Brett Keisel are able to go next week, there’s a good chance that Arnfelt could find his stay on the Steelers’ active roster a short one, which many rookies, including McLendon, have gone through.

Of course, the reason Arnfelt was even on the practice squad was because defensive line coach John Mitchell and the rest of the organization like what they saw out of him. The former Northwestern product, in fact, was speculated by many as a strong candidate to make the final roster, though I found it unlikely.

Still, Arnfelt spent much of the offseason running as the second-team left defensive end behind Ziggy Hood, ahead of other candidates such as Nick Williams, whom the Steelers actually drafted, because the Steelers wanted to use Al Woods at nose tackle.

That was despite having Alameda Ta’amu and Hebron Fangupo available to take the reps; perhaps the chance to give Arnfelt second-team reps also played a small role in the decision to give Woods work with the second-team at nose tackle.

In fact, with Keisel spending much of the preseason off to the side, Arnfelt played often with the second-team defense during that time, though he was third-team with all healthy bodies playing.

The Steelers worked him quite a bit throughout the preseason; in fact, on the defensive side, Woods’ 164 snaps was the only total to exceed the 146 logged by Arnfelt.

Arnfelt also graded well, receiving a 2.1 overall grade by Pro Football Focus, most of which was based on his -2.5 pass rushing grade. His 4.0 grade against the run was second only to Woods, with a grade of 7.5.

The rookie defensive end was a bit of a fan favorite, both here and elsewhere during the preseason, so it’s good for him to get promoted, even if it ends up being for just a game. With Kesiel, Hood, and Woods all in the final year of their contracts, there’s certainly a chance Arnfelt will be playing a key role in the defense next season.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Rick M

    Thanks for the excellent pre-season stats and the recap of what he’s been doing on the practice squad. I realize it’s not likely, but it would be nice to see him get some game experience.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    For a guy who wasn’t suppose do be anything but a camp body he has already exceeded expectations and hope to see him a few plays in the game.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    My bet is that if he were given some snaps, say 20-30 in the next while, that he would certainly make a couple of eye-popping plays. However, I think it is very, very unlikely that he gets a chance. We shall see.

  • JAMESH

    The 2014 pre-season should subtly begin tonight. Give Arnfelt some snaps.

  • Mike Carroll

    Wouldn’t Arnfelt be better protected from other teams if he were on the 53 man roster at the end of the season compared to the PS? Or does that not matter in terms of retaining undrafted rookies?

  • Shea Fahr

    He does seem to have some natural abilities against the run…something that has been missing on this team at times this year. I hope he plays and plays well.

  • Jollyrob68

    He should stay on the 53 man roster the rest of this season.

  • Shea Fahr

    I agree.

  • dgh57

    Can’t we cut some so called talent(less) like Carter, Sly, or even Paulson to keep Arnfelt on the roster? I mean it’s week 14 not week 4!

  • DrakePirate

    couldnt say it better our 2014 pre season starts tonight … people I would really like to see

    Arnfelt
    Isaiah Green *****
    Shamarko .. Lots and lots
    Markus Wheaton
    Vince Williams
    Fangupo
    Justin Brown – if they can find a way to get him on the field last coupe games

  • HopalongCassidy

    Play the kid. Let’s see how he does.

  • NW86

    Good question – I think the Steelers still have the first right to sign players to futures contracts even if they end the season on their practice squad. But someone else could probably answer better.

  • NW86

    Yes it will probably be only for one week, but that still means he will earn about $24K this week rather than the $6K on the practice squad. Not a bad little Christmas bonus for someone who has been working hard on the PS for you all season!

  • HopalongCassidy

    Arnfelt’s promotion could also be a long one if they ever let him see the field where he can actually show what he’s got.