As the days continue to tick away before the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2015 training camp opens in Latrobe at the end of the month, we continue to preview some of the major storylines to look out for as the weeks progress.
One of the more exciting aspects of training camp is always keeping an eye on the roster battles, and the Steelers appear to have a deeper 90-man roster than has been the case in recent years. As a result, there are several spots in particular at which the coaching staff figures to have a difficult decision to make when the roster cuts must be made.
Will there be any difficult decisions to make at the running back position? I can’t help but lean toward the negative, as I don’t think there will be any surprises, unless the Steelers decide to carry more running backs than is expected.
Of course, the narrative here is that Le’Veon Bell will be suspended for the first three games of the season, which means that there will be a roster spot open for those three games. Logic dictates that that spot will most likely be used for a running back.
The Steelers only carried three running backs on the roster all season, with one of them being a rookie, and the other being a veteran, who was released and then replaced by yet another rookie. I anticipate that both of those rookies will make the initial 53-man roster.
But we’ll start with DeAngelo Williams, how will be the primary ball carrier while Bell is suspended. I would imagine that his anticipated workload will play a role in how many running backs the Steelers decide to carry.
Dri Archer is not a between the tackles runner who can eat up snaps. In fact, the vast majority of his snaps last year were lined up parallel to the line of scrimmage rather from the backfield. The Steelers will need at least one grinder while Bell is out to spell Williams, and that almost assuredly will be Josh Harris.
Harris signed with the Steelers during training camp last season and ended up making the practice squad, later signing on to the 53-man roster following the release of LeGarrette Blount, and he impressed more than his stats would indicate. The team seems to expect him to take a jump this season.
The Steelers only added two more backs this year, with two undrafted free agents in Ross Scheuerman and Cameron Stingily. Stingily was one of several running backs invited for a tryout at the team’s rookie minicamp, and he was the one who got the deal.
Scheuerman and Stingily couldn’t be more different, aside from their slightly awkward to spell last names. Scheuerman is more of a pass-catching running back, particularly at this level, while Stingily is a north-south bulldozer.
I don’t suspect that either one will beat out Harris for a roster spot, but the Steelers could elect to carry four running backs this year. If not, they will battle for a spot on the practice squad. Whoever wins may be determined by what type of running style the team is most interested in, because I’m not sure there’s much of a talent gap between them.