Steelers release Essex, send Spence to IR

Veteran offensive lineman Trai Essex and punter Jeremy Kapinos were among 20 players waived or released by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the team trimmed down its roster to the mandatory 53- man limit on Friday.

The Steelers also placed rookie linebacker Sean Spence on injured reserve after the 2012 third-round draft pick reportedly tore multiple knee ligaments in the team's 17-16 preseason win over Carolina on Thursday.

Essex was a third-round choice by Pittsburgh in the 2005 draft and had spent the last seven seasons with the club. The 29-year-old appeared in 76 games over that time frame and made 28 overall starts at both guard and tackle.

His release means the Steelers will keep rookie guard David DeCastro on the Week 1 roster for the time being. The team's first-round pick in April's draft is expected to miss at least a significant portion of the season after sustaining a significant knee injury in an Aug. 25 preseason contest at Buffalo.

Kapinos had spent parts of the last two seasons as Pittsburgh's punter and averaged a career-best 45.0 yards per kick in eight games in 2011. He was beaten out for the job by undrafted rookie Drew Butler.

The Steelers also waived defensive backs Damon Cromartie-Smith, Terrence Frederick and Josh Victorian, linebackers Brandon Hicks and Marshall McFadden, defensive linemen Corbin Bryant, Igbinosun Ikponmwosa and Jake Stoller, quarterback Jerrod Johnson, running back DuJuan Harris, wide receivers Tyler Beiler, Toney Clemons, David Gilreath, Marquis Maze and Derrick Williams and offensive linemen Ryan Lee, John Malecki and Chris Scott.

Frederick and Clemons were both seventh-round picks in this past draft.