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PSU in the NFL

Steelers Sign Penn State Alum Dan Chisena

Penn State wide receiver Dan Chisena (88) attempts to haul in a pass as Pittsburgh defensive back Damarri Mathis (21) defends in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Penn State wide receiver Dan Chisena (88) attempts to haul in a pass as Pittsburgh defensive back Damarri Mathis (21) defends in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

A previous version of this article originally appeared in our Pittsburgh Steelers focused partner website SteelersNow.com.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed wide receiver and Penn State alumnus Dan Chisena to a reserve/future contract for the 2023 season, the team announced on Monday.

Chisena, 25 is a Paoli, Pennsylvania native and went to Penn State originally as a walk-on before earning a scholarship for the 2019 season. He finished his Nittany Lions career with three catches for 66 yards. Chisena was also on the Penn State track team and ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash in his pre-draft process.

The Minnesota Vikings signed Chisena as an undrafted free agent and he made the 53-man roster out of training camp as a special teamer. A wide receiver in college, the Vikings moved him to safety, though he played almost exclusively on special teams in his time with Minnesota.

He did play 11 snaps of offense in his second season in 2021. He spent the entire 2022 season on Minnesota’s practice squad, though he was called up for two games.

On special teams, the 6-foot-3, 202-pound receiver world primary on coverage, return and blocking units. He has 11 career tackles and one fumble recovery.

The Steelers have a number of wide receivers that play extensively on special teams, including Miles Boykin, Gunner Olszewski and Steven Sims, though Boykin and Sims are restricted free agents and Olszewski suffered an apparently serious lower-body injury in the 2022 season finale against the Cleveland Browns.

The signing of Chisena could be a sign that the Steelers are looking to upgrade their special teams, where they struggled in kickoff coverage and punt returns in 2022, according to Football Outsiders. The Steelers had -6.0 DVOA on punt returns and -7.2 DVOA on kickoff coverage.

The signing of Chisena puts the Steelers at 80 players on their offseason roster, 10 shy of the maximum of 90. He’s the third Penn State alum on the offseason roster, joining tight end Pat Freiermuth and inside linebacker Marcus Allen, who is set to become a free agent this March.

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