After the CFL season ended last year, there was a solid group of CFL players going for workouts with NFL teams. Diontae Spencer was one of the CFL players trying to make the transition down south. The former Redblacks receiver had two straight seasons where he gained over 2,500 all-purpose yards in Ottawa.
Those yards include the outstanding record he has for all proffesional leagues, which marks up of 496 all-purpose yards in a single game. That game came against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on October 27th, 2017 which had been Week 19, where the Ottawa Redblacks were still fighting for a playoff spot. Diontae Spencer shattered Christian McCaffrey’s old record which was 461 all-purpose yards which he received in his 2015 season at Stanford where he also became the first Stanford running-back to rush for 2,000 yards in one season.
The Steelers were one of multiple NFL teams that brought him in for a workout this off-season, and they were the most pleased at the time.
On January 4th of this year, Spencer had signed with the Steelers. Diontae went on to train with the team for both mini camp and training camp where it also looked as if he’d have a spot on the 53 man roster.
The week of his first NFL game, I was lucky enough to interview Diontae about his time in Ottawa and the time he hopes to spend down south with the NFL.
Diontae Spencer went through training camp just fine, spending time with the players and coaches off the field, and showing what he’s got on the field.
Here comes the pre-season! Diontae Spencer goes into the pre-season as a player fighting his way onto the roster. Spencer was listed as the 3rd receiver on the left side in depth charts, and was making his ways up.
Making his ways up onto the depth chart was something he progressively did throughout the pre-season.
With the receivers group staying the same, the Steelers became more attached to Diontae’s abilities and moved him to the 2nd string left receiver for the final game.
Before the final pre-season game, Diontae only had 2 catches for a grand total of 17 yards. His hands weren’t the key thing looked at in camp though, Spencer’s 4.34 speed is electrifying and the Steelers fell in love with it this pre-season.
The offense used him as a flex receiver where he’d run reverses out of the backfield along with routes as a receiver. After his big performance last Thursday, Spencer’s pre-season totals added up as 4 receptions for 39 yards, 2 carries for 48 yards, 1 kickoff return for 35 yards along with 8 punt returns for 108 yards. Spencer ended his pre-season showcase with 15 touches for 230 yards.
Although us Redblacks and Steelers fans liked what we saw out of Diontae Spencer, the Steelers front office didn’t see enough to put him on the roster.
A roster spot may be tough to come by, but the Steelers and every other NFL team is granted 10 practice roster positions, and the Steelers offered Spencer a spot on their practice roster.
It may have seemed like a no brainer at the time to have accepted the spot, although there were a few transactions happening in the silence that Diontae Spencer was aware of.
Spencer happily declined his spot on the Steelers practice roster due to an opening on the Denver Broncos 53 man roster.
After Diontae Spencer had been waived by the Steelers, the Denver Broncos decided to sign the former CFLer to be a punt returner for the team.
Spencer and the Broncos will face off against the Oakland Raiders for Monday Night Football this week to open up the season.