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Buffs in the NFL: Witherspoon Makes Most of Opportunity

The Steelers corner made some key plays in Week 13

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

With starting cornerback Joe Haden out for a third consecutive game because of a foot injury, and James Pierre benched due to poor play, Ahkello Witherspoon got the start for the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday and did not disappoint. The 26-year old saw action on 68 defensive snaps (92 percent), registered five tackles and had a huge pass break-up in the Steelers 20-19 season-saving win over the Baltimore Ravens. “I knew I was gonna start throughout the week. Starting and having all those reps… it kind of puts me back into my zone of being out there every single snap,” Witherspoon told reporters Monday. A five-year NFL veteran, Witherspoon was a free agent pickup by the Seattle Seahawks in March and traded to the Steelers in September. A healthy scratch for most of the season, Witherspoon didn’t see action with the Steelers until Week 11 against the Los Angeles Chargers. In the past three games, he’s logged 103 plays with eight total tackles and two pass break ups. Another former Buffaloes cornerback, the Ravens’ Jimmy Smith, recorded four tackles in 42 plays in the loss.

Elsewhere around the league, Cincinnati defensive back Chidobe Awuzie combined for three tackles, two pass break ups and an interception in the Bengals 41-22 loss to the Chargers.

Bengals nose tackle Josh Tupou saw action on 17 defensive snaps and registered a tackle in the loss. Giants tackle Nate Solder started and played in every offensive play during New York’s 20-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Phillip Lindsay, a recent pickup by the Dolphins, was inactive for the game (ankle). Jaguars wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. finished with three receptions on five targets for 30 yards in Jacksonville’s 37-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. And New Orleans cornerback Ken Crawley saw action on special teams in the Saints 27-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.