The Pittsburgh Steelers offense is expected to be one of the most prolific in the NFL this upcoming season thanks to the entire starting unit along with several backups from last year remaining the same. While the offense was able to get a lot of work in on their passing game during the offseason practices, their running game progress won’t be known more about until training camp gets underway in five weeks.
“It’s kind of hard to work on the run game when you don’t have pads on, so this spring has been a lot about throwing the ball,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said recently, according to Mike Prisuta of steelers.com. “That’s not necessarily who we’re going to be offensively but it’s who we have to be now.”
While he claims that he’s still not 100 percent fully recovered from the knee injury that he suffered last year in the final regular-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals, running back Le’Veon Bell did take part in the offseason practices and is expected to be a full-go when the team arrives at Latrobe. Even though he’s currently slated to miss the first three games of the 2015 season due to a suspension, offensive coordinator Todd Haley indicated over a week ago that Bell will receive his normal workload throughout training camp and the preseason in order to make sure he’s ready. I’m sure that getting those first few hits in pads behind him is high on his agenda.
The Steelers signed veteran running back DeAngelo Williams during the offseason to serve as the starter until Bell returns from his suspension. A few weeks ago during the team’s final week of OTA practices, Haley told the media that he noticed Williams getting more comfortable with his offense and as a result he’s practicing faster.
“I told him that today. It’s a lot to learn for a guy that’s been in just one spot, and now he is trying to learn a whole new language, so to speak,” Haley said over a week ago, according to steelers.com. “And he’s done a good job studying it. Definitely this week you’ve really seen him get a little more comfortable and he is practicing faster.”
Also back this year and serving as depth are former third-round draft pick Dri Archer and undrafted free agent Josh Harris, who looks to focus on several things this year in training camp.
“I want to work on things like pass rush,” Harris said back in April, according to steelers.com. “That’s one thing I saw from Le’Veon. He is a great guy. He can be in the backfield and go out for routes, he can be in the slot and have routes. That is one thing I am going to make sure I put some time in on.
“This offseason is huge. At the end of the day it’s going to make me that much better of a player and that is what I strive for. I strive to be the best. Being able to see the offense more, hear my coach more and be around the guys who have been here for some time. All that will do is make me that much better of a player.”
Bell has already established himself as one of the top running backs in the league thanks to his 2215 yard output last season. The Steelers quality of depth at the position will be tested early in the 2015 season and we’ll have to wait five weeks when the pads go on to find out if the three players behind Bell have what it takes to carry the load until he returns from his suspension.
“You are getting a lot of guys at the position ready to compete, because you are evaluating and trying to figure out who and what you have, and who gives you the best chance to win,” said Haley. “Getting a seasoned veteran like DeAngelo in here is a good thing. He’s played a lot of snaps and a lot of football. You can see it in how he carries himself. He is showing leadership to some of the younger guys. But at the same time I like our young guys that are developing.”