ALAMEDA -- Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said this morning that cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke has been an "awesome surprise" for the Steelers since they signed Van Dyke on Sept. 7. The Raiders had cut Van Dyke -- their third-round pick in 2011 -- four days earlier after an inconsistent training camp.
"He's done a nice job for us, man," Tomlin said on a conference call. "He's provided some quality plays for us just in two ballgames. He downed a punt in Denver on the 1-yard line. He prevented a ball from getting downed on the 1-yard line. For us last week he blew up a punt returner that created a turnover. He's been an awesome surprise for us in (special) teams, and really just beginning the process of acclimating himself to the defense. And hopefully once he learns what to do he can be an asset for us there as well."
Van Dyke's contributions in Pittsburgh have been entirely on special teams, as he has yet to play a defensive snap for the Steelers this season. Still, that won't thrill Raiders fans in light of the suddenly thin cornerback situation in Oakland. Starters Ron Bartell (shoulder) and Shawntae Spencer (foot) are both injured -- Bartell ineligible to play until Nov. 11 under the league's new short-term injured reserve -- and after Spencer went down against Miami on Sunday, backups Pat Lee and Joselio Hanson struggled.
According to a Twitter posting by his agent this morning, defensive back Akwasi Owusu-Ansah has signed with the Raiders to the practice squad. Owusu-Ansah played in seven games with the Jaguars and Cowboys last year. The Raiders had one open spot on the practice squad. They announced yesterday they had cut long snapper Nick Guess from the practice squad and re-signed defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga.
-- Matt Kawahara