The Steelers may have an interest in a former Pittsburgh Mauler. An ex-Steeler suffers a significant injury setback in Dallas. Another one is heading to Arizona. Ex-Pirate Josh Bell awaits a potential trade. And a former Robert Morris hockey player is on the move.
All that in Tuesday’s “First Call.”
The Steelers worked out Pittsburgh Maulers quarterback Vad Lee, along with three other players. That’s according to Aaron Wilson of the Pro Football Network.
One of them signed. That was Notre Dame receiver Javon McKinley. With Chase Claypool injured and Diontae Johnson refusing to work in team drills because of his contractual status, McKinley can be an extra body at wide receiver.
As for Lee, he began his college career at Georgia Tech before opening some eyes at James Madison. He has never played for an NFL team, but the 29-year-old was part of the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the TSL’s Aviators and Alphas, the Your Call Football League and the USFL.
In the Birmingham bubble with the Maulers, Lee completed 55% passes for the Maulers to go along with six touchdowns and six interceptions, leading Pittsburgh to its lone win of the season.
Lee played for head coach Kirby Smart with the Maulers. He’s a former Mike Tomlin assistant. So perhaps that’s a connection worth remembering.
The other two players were wide receivers Juwan Green and DJ Montgomery. Green has spent time with the Lions, Falcons and Titans. Montgomery began his career with the Cleveland Browns and was most recently with the New York Jets.
Coward a Cardinal
Wilson also notes that veteran offensive lineman Rashaad Coward is expected to sign with the Arizona Cardinals.
Coward was a Steeler last year. He appeared in four games but didn’t start any. The previous three seasons, Coward was a Chicago Bear.
One of Coward’s jobs in Arizona will be to block for another former Steeler, running back James Conner. After making the Pro Bowl in 2021, his first season with the Cardinals, Conner signed a $21 million contract extension.
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Much like Conner, former Steeler James Washington left Pittsburgh after 2021 in hopes of finding better luck for his career on his second contract.
So far, though, he hasn’t found it. The wide receiver signed with the Dallas Cowboys this offseason. On Monday, he broke a bone in his right foot and had to be carted off the practice field. The Fort Worth-Star Telegram reports that Washington could be out for up to 10 weeks.
The injury occurred when Washington and cornerback Travon Diggs went up for a ball and Diggs landed on Washington’s foot. Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones confirmed the injury.
The Telegram says that former Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant had the injury a few years ago and missed six weeks. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence had surgery last year and missed 10 weeks with the same injury.
Washington was signed in hopes of offsetting the losses of Amari Cooper (trade to the Cleveland Browns) and Cedrick Wilson (signed with Miami Dolphins).
Wait in Washington continues
Josh Bell is still in Washington. For now.
The former Pirates first baseman has been the target of much trade speculation this year. The 2019 All-Star is hitting .301 with 14 home runs and 57 RBIs for the Washington Nationals. They are in the last place of the National League East. The Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros are said to be interested. Bell was born in Irving, Texas, and went to high school in Dallas.
“I feel like coming from the Pirates, every year there was somebody in trade discussions, even through the minor leagues,” Bell told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal in a recent interview. “So, I’ve been through it before. I’m at my best when I just focus on myself, focus on the here and now and focus on getting ready for tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, another former Pirate, Mark Melancon, is having some struggles with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The ex-Buccos closer allowed two runs in 1⅔ innings pitched Monday against the Cleveland Guardians, en route to a 6-5 defeat in 11 innings. Melancon was tagged with the loss.
Despite 14 saves, he falls to 3-10 with an ERA of 4.66.
Robert Morris alum Justin Kapelmaster has a new team. The class of 2020 goaltender signed a deal with the Reading Royals of the ECHL.
Kapelmaster, 26, has 14-18-3 record with a .908 save percentage in his ECHL career. The native of Coral Springs, Fla., won two starts for the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL in 2020-21.
After posting 29 college victories between RMU and Ferris State, Kapelmaster is now on his sixth stop in the ECHL. He has previously played with Fort Wayne, Allen, Worcester, Jacksonville and Indianapolis.
The goalie is one of 10 Colonials to sign with new teams this year.
Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at email@example.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.