With minicamp in the rearview mirror and training camp on the horizon, the Pittsburgh Steelers should already have all of the main components of their offseason roster in place, with all draft picks signed and no more free agents projected to be added until further evaluation.
It’s possible that a need should arise for further additions, either due to poor performance or injuries, once we reach training camp.
But for the time being, we should take a look at the depth chart that the front office has put together since the end of the 2013 season and see how well it stacks up in terms of quality and depth.
Due to the cumbersome lengths that offseason rosters can reach, we will be projecting a number or range of roster spots per position and focusing on that number of players per position, with other potential notables receiving mention below.
Position: Running Back
Projected Roster Spots: 4-5
Le’Veon Bell: Le’Veon Bell’s professional career got off to a slow start last year when an injury caused him to miss the first three games of the season, but his debut two-touchdown performance in London helped assure Steeler Nation that all would be okay.
Though the ground game struggled, with Bell managing just 3.5 yards per carry and struggling to break off explosive plays through tight gaps, there’s plenty of room for optimism heading into next season, not the least of which was the improvement of the running game in the last month of the season. Bell also expects to not only do better, but to be more active in the passing game in his second season.
LeGarrette Blount: It’s been a while since the Steelers have had a true one-two punch at running back. Indeed, not since Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker, I would argue. LeGarrette Blount’s addition seeks to change that. He figures to garner far more carries than the reserve backs in recent years have gotten, as he has the resume to attest to his abilities. The top two backs have also been extremely ingratiating toward one another and have expressed anticipation in working in a rotation together.
Dri Archer: Given his size, Dri Archer will obviously not be used as a traditional running back as frequently as the others on the roster. He’s also the only running back attending wide receiver meetings. But he offers a dynamic dimension and big-play potential that this offense has been missing—provided that they can give him the opportunities.
Will Johnson: The fullback is now working with the tight ends to increase his availability on passing plays, but I would imagine that he will still continue to fulfill his lead blocking duties this year. His role diminished last season despite being a constant source of praise from the coaching staff. Might he have the year in 2014 that many projected for him last season?
Others: Though Mike Tomlin told Blount while recruiting him that he believed the Steelers could do with two backs what most teams do with three, that doesn’t mean they won’t carry an extra back, as they often do.
There are some in-house candidates, such as Alvester Alexander, Tauren Poole, and Miguel Maysonet, though some believe that LaRod Stephens-Howling might still be brought back during training camp if he’s recovered from his September ACL tear.