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Former Steelers players, prospects get chance to shine in inaugural AAF games

Joe Rutter
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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers linebacker Matthew Thomas gets a hold of Justin Thomas in the back field during practice Aug. 7, 2018 at Saint Vincent College.

The Alliance of American Football is a second chance for professional football players who didn’t make the cut the first time in the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers have their share of former players competing in the league, with several taking center stage in the upstart AAF’s opening weekend.

No former Steelers player had a bigger debut than linebacker Terence Garvin, who suited up for the Orlando Apollos. Garvin had 11 tackles and two interceptions, one of which he returned 51 yards for a touchdown, in Orlando’s 40-6 rout of the Atlanta Legends.

Given that Garvin is one of the most experience players in the AAF – he spent three of his six NFL seasons with the Steelers – it’s no surprise that he dominated the competition.

Also competing in that game were former Steelers’ fourth-round pick Doran Grant, who had two tackles for Atlanta. The Legends top receiver was former Steelers practice squad player Justin Thomas, who had four receptions for 35 yards and one carry for 12 yards. Thomas played quarterback at Georgia Tech, but he played wide receiver during his time with the Steelers.

With the Steelers serving as one of the feeder teams for the Birmingham Iron, they had seven players on that team’s roster for the opening weekend. Birmingham shut out Memphis, 26-0, with former Steelers cornerback Jamar Summers playing a key role. Summers, an undrafted corner from Uconn who was in camp with the Steelers last year, had three tackles (one for a loss), an interception, a forced fumble and two other passes defensed.

Another former Steelers defensive back, Jacob Hagen, had a pass defensed. Former Penn State defensive lineman Casey Sayles, who was in the 2018 training camp with the Steelers, had three tackles for Birmingham.

Other former Steelers players that played for Birmingham included offensive lineman Larson Graham, defensive linemen Johnny Maxey and Josh Frazier, and wide receiver L’Damian Washington. All played except for Washington, who was inactive.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at [email protected] or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.