They may not have been able to impress many of the reporters that were able to attend select sessions of the rookie minicamp over the weekend, but the Pittsburgh Steelers managed to find two players participating in the camp on a tryout basis to sign to their 90-man offseason roster—in which they are now in compliance.
Neither signing was a surprise, of course, due to select circumstances. The signing of defensive lineman Mike Thornton came at least in part as a result of undrafted free agent signing Nigel Crawford-Kinney reportedly leaving the squad, so there was an opening.
At running back, the Steelers’ numbers were already quite low, having only signed one running back as a free agent prior to the draft and adding one after the draft as an undrafted free agent to complement the carryovers from last season.
Pittsburgh invited three running backs to participate in their minicamp on a tryout basis, however, so it’s no surprise that one of them stuck. The one who gets to stick around for now, joining Ross Sheuerman, is Cameron Stingily, a big back who rushed for over 2000 yards with 23 touchdowns in his 30 games as a college player.
At 6’1”, 235 pounds, Stingily is now the running back on the roster who most closely resembles starting running back Le’Veon Bell in stature, who is listed by the team at 6’1” and 244 pounds, even though he has lost some of that weight since his rookie season.
While it’s difficult to discern much in terms of transferable skills when considering the level of competition that Stingily faced playing in the MAC conference, his highlight reel is full of plays that demonstrate, at the very least, that he is a load to take down, attributable not only to his size but also to a good understanding of balance and leverage.
With Bell slated to be suspended for the first three games of the 2015 regular season, the Steelers organization was expected to possibly address the running back position in the draft at some point, but they did not.
While the team did sign veteran running back DeAngelo Williams, who figures to be the primary ball carrier with Bell resigned to his couch, many, including myself, believed that the level of talent and value available in the draft was too much to pass up.
Perhaps the Steelers did feel that way, but believed that the best value could be found after the draft, requiring no expenditure of resources other than financial. They had four running backs to choose from, and were able to keep the two that they liked the most in Sheuerman and Stingily.
Those two join a rather small group of running backs behind Bell and Williams that consists of just Dri Archer and Josh Harris, two second-year players. The former was a third-round draft pick who is not a traditional ball carrier at his size, and is listed as a WR/RB on the roster. Harris, an undrafted rookie, was signed to the 53-man roster late in the year, but did see the most carries in the Steelers’ playoff loss from a patchwork backfield looking to replace the injured Bell.