Steelers DE Brian Arnfelt Has A Chance To Accomplish A Rare Feat In 2014

During the Kevin Colbert era, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had their share of rookie undrafted free agents that managed to beat the odds and make the final 53 man roster out of training camp. I’m not going to go over all of the names, but the most recent ones to accomplish that feat are Terence Garvin, Will Johnson, Drew Butler, Robert Golden and Adrian Robinson.

While that topic has been covered several times already, I wanted to research how many times during the Colbert era that an undrafted rookie signed by the Steelers that failed to make the opening week roster in their first season was able to make the final 53 in their second year.

Surprisingly, according to my research, that feat has only been accomplished by five players over the course of the last 14 years and the last player to do it was running back Isaac Redman.

Redman, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2009, failed to crack the Steelers final 53 man roster that season out of training camp. He was, however, bounced back and forth between the practice squad and the 53 man roster in 2009 and in 2010 he made the final roster out of training camp.

In addition to Redman, Patrick Bailey, Doug Legursky, Arnold Harrison and Dan Kreider are the only undrafted players that were originally signed by the Steelers that made the season opening 53 man roster in their second year after failing to do so as rookies.

Currently, there are only three players on the Steelers 90 man roster that were signed last year as undrafted free agents that failed to make the final 53 man roster out of training camp and they are: Nik Embernate, Chris Hubbard and Brian Arnfelt.

Embernate never really had a shot as a rookie as a knee injury suffered in training camp last year landed him on the Steelers injured reserve list for the entire season. As for Hubbard, he spent his entire rookie season on the Steelers practice squad. Arnfelt, on the other hand, spent most of his rookie season on the Steelers practice squad before finally getting promoted to the 53 man roster for the final three regular-season games.

Now, baring a few injuries to the offensive line in training camp this year, there’s a pretty good chance that we won’t be seeing both Embernate and Hubbard on the 2014 final 53 man roster. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that neither of them make it when you start crunching the numbers. That leaves Arnfelt as this year’s top candidate to accomplish what only five other players have been able to do over the course of the last 14 years.

When you consider that Cameron Heyward, Steve McLendon, Cam Thomas and Stephon Tuitt are all locks to make the final 53 man roster out of training camp this year, baring injury, Arnfelt appears, as we sit here in May, to have a pretty good shot. If he indeed pulls it off, he will be the first defensive lineman to overcome these long odds during the Colbert era.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • NW86

    Yep. The way I see it, since Cam Thomas can play anywhere on the line, if you take him out of the equation you only need 3 more DE’s and 2 more NT’s. That leaves Arnfelt and Nick Williams battling for the last DE spot, and Fangupo and McCullers battling for the last NT spot. Arnfelt and Williams are both PS eligible, so there is a chance that the one not making the 53 could end up there. McCullers could too, but if Fangupo misses the 53, he is gone.

  • CW

    I don’t know. If Nick Williams and Brian Arnfelt both show they’ve learned the defensive end position nearly as well as Cam Thomas and Fang or McCullers does a better job as a pure nose tackle, why would the Steelers keep Cam Thomas over three younger cheaper players?

    Besides Embernate was impressing before suffering that knee injury. Could easily see him making the final roster as a backup guard and putting Whimper out of a job.

  • steeltown

    Embernate would have to show versatility like Whimper and Wesley Johnson seemingly have.. hopefully at the very least we can stash him on the PS for another year if he fails to make the 53man

  • steeltown

    I have a feeling Arnfelt makes the club this year. He’s been putting in a lot of work this offseason and the coaches have mentioned him by name a few times. He’s in a good situation, stay healthy and perform and he makes the club IMO

  • dgh57

    When we had injuries last year along the DL Arnfelt was brought up to fill in and when all were healthy they kept him on the roster the last few games. I think this was around the time OT K. Long was selected by the Bears from our PS. I think they did that to protect him from the same fate as Long. Then they resign him to another futures contract to get a further look at him. So I think the team is high on him and so am I!!

  • steeltown

    I think he was already signed through ’14 from a 2yr deal back in ’13 but I agree with you It sure seems they liked him enough to not risk losing him at the end of last year. Another note, I believe he is an Exclusive Rights FA after this season

  • joed32

    You’re right they can both play Tackle while Embernate is strictly a Guard.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    Numbers crunching, a media term for , ” playing favorites”, last year in camp, Embernate had just been moved up to number 2 guard when he got hurt, if he is healthy , there is no reason he can’t make the final 53, he can play either guard and has the temperament badly needed on this group of sad sack warriors. If there is a reason, it surely is not the talent ahead of him.

  • SteelersDepot

    signing bonus would go right out the door with Thomas for starters.He would have to really suck to get cut already.

  • SteelersDepot

    Pouncey, Gilbert, Adams, Wallace, Beachum, DeCastro, Foster plus likely at least one more. Where is the playing favorites?

  • Bill Sechrengost

    I have really liked Arnfelt since they signed him. He just seems like a really hard worker, but probably not the most talented guy. I think we just like rooting for the underdog. He should get some playing time this year, but will be a backup, so not much.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I can’t agree completely. Versatility is nice but if he’s a really good guard that might be enough.

  • Anthony Hargraves

    wouldn’t be surprised if he is starting at the beginning of the year. he would be replaced by Tuitt eventually say game 4.

  • dgh57

    Okay, I wasn’t sure how his contract was structured. I thought UDFAs were signed to one year deals so if they signed him like you say then that means they like him even more than I thought!

  • treeher

    Well, the “one more” would/could be Embernate.

  • Jollyrob68

    I’m a Arnfelt fan and I know he will make this team.

  • joed32

    More likely Whimper since he can fill in at Tackle.

  • Milliken Steeler

    His strength and 40 time would have ranked right near the top if he was invited to the combine.

    I think the Steelers saw that in him last year.