To Heinz Field the New England Patriots will go.
And some familiar faces will meet them there with playoff seeds on the line.
A total of six former Patriots reside between the Pittsburgh Steelers’ active roster and practice squad heading into Sunday’s encounter. That assortment now in black and yellow includes a couple of running backs and linebackers, as well as one tight end and cornerback.
But there’s also another couple ex-Steelers to account for in New England’s fold.
Here’s a glance through those roster connections as the 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff edges closer.
Stevan Ridley, running back – A third-round pick out of LSU in 2011, Ridley went on to spend four seasons with the organization that drafted him. Ridley rushed for 2,817 yards and 22 touchdowns on 649 carries over that span, but a torn ACL and MCL would end his final go-round in October 2014. He’d earn a Super Bowl XLIX ring and made consequent stops with six teams before regaining ground with Pittsburgh late in 2017. Ridley, now 29, has rushed 49 times for 168 yards and two scores over 10 games as a Steeler.
Ralph Webb, running back – Webb, who signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad last Tuesday, entered the league as a Patriots undrafted signing this spring. The Vanderbilt record-setter accounted for a trio of touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions during his rookie preseason with New England. Webb was waived and retained on the Patriots’ scout team to begin the regular season, yet was released in October. A three-week stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers arrived next before Webb made his way to Pittsburgh.
Xavier Grimble, tight end – Grimble’s cup of coffee with the Patriots came in November 2014, when the tight end by way of the USC Trojans, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers joined the practice squad only to be let go two days later. Grimble then revisited San Francisco and latched on in Pittsburgh as a futures signing in January 2016. There he has stuck to appear in the first 41 games of his NFL career. Grimble has caught 21 passes – with three versus New England – for 223 yards and three scores during that stretch.
Jon Bostic, linebacker – The Chicago Bears sent Bostic, the No. 50 overall pick in the 2013 draft, to Foxborough to close September 2015. The linebacker via Florida would appear in 11 games, with one start, for the Patriots thenceforth before being sent to the Detroit Lions for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2016. Bostic spent that season on injured reserve and then logged a 97-tackle season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. Through 13 games in Pittsburgh, he’s started a dozen while notching 66 tackles and a career-high 2.5 sacks.
L.J. Fort, linebacker – Fort stepped into the Patriots’ facility midway through training camp in 2015, and the Northern Iowa alum would remain for two weeks and one preseason game. Fort, who has also been a member of the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals, joined Pittsburgh roughly 24 hours after his Patriots exit. He’s gone on to play in 41 games with the Steelers, accruing 54 tackles and four pass breakups through 350 snaps on defense and 768 on special teams.
Mike Hilton, cornerback – Sept. 6 to Sept. 14, 2016 marked the extent of Hilton’s journey in New England. The undrafted nickelback out of Ole Miss partook in his initial preseason with the Jacksonville Jaguars prior to accruing that week-plus on the Patriots’ practice squad. Hilton later agreed to join Pittsburgh’s practice squad after his New England release. A futures contract would follow. So would the initial 28 appearances, 107 tackles, five sacks, forced fumble, 14 passes defended and three interceptions of Hilton’s career.
Brian Hoyer, quarterback – The Steelers became the second checkpoint on Hoyer’s NFL itinerary in November 2012. But Hoyer, who’d been cut by New England at the end of that August, would be cut by Pittsburgh one-third of the way through December. Hoyer did not take a snap under center during his time with the Steelers, yet has taken regular-season snaps with an additional six teams since then, including the team that signed him as a rookie free agent out of Michigan State all the way back in 2009.
Damoun Patterson, wide receiver – Patterson, who has resided on New England’s practice squad since early November, originally signed with Pittsburgh as undrafted free agency got underway in April. The 24-year-old wideout from Youngstown State caught nine passes for 112 yards and a touchdown through his first two exhibitions as a Steeler, and remained one through the first week of September. Patterson went on to make a stop on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice fields this fall before finding himself on New England’s.