In the regular season opening loss Thursday night to the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Will Johnson served as the backup running back to starter DeAngelo Williams. During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked if Johnson’s size factored into that decision even though he only had four career carries heading into that game
“It’s just what we decided to do last week, said Tomlin. “It’s really no indication on how we’re going to move going forward. Maybe we’re different this week.”
If they do decide to do something different in their Week 2 game against the San Francisco 49ers, one could easily speculate that new running back Jordan Todman will be the one to back up Williams being as starter Le’Veon Bell still has one more game of his suspension to serve. Tomlin was asked about that possible change on Tuesday.
“Again, that’s kind of an element of the discussion I was suggesting there,” said Tomlin. “Jordan was very new a week ago. We’ll see what Jordan’s capable of doing and that may change how we utilize all of our backs.”
So, will Todman get a chance to return kickoffs against the 49ers as well?
“He’s under consideration in everything,” said Tomlin.
None of this is very surprising at all and it makes sense that Johnson backed up Williams Thursday night being as Todman had only been with the team a few days prior to the game against the Patriots. Now that he’s had more time to learn the offense, I fully expect that Todman will back up Williams this coming Sunday. Additionally, I won’t be surprised if Todman is the Steelers kickoff returner Sunday afternoon.
So what does this all mean for second-year running back Dri Archer? While I do believe that Archer stands a good chance of receiving a helmet Sunday against the 49ers, his future past that point really remains cloudy and up in the air. Bell will return in Week 3 and at that point the Steelers really won’t need to dress more than three running backs for their game against the St. Louis Rams. Should Archer not be the player that’s released to make room for Bell on the team’s 53 man roster there’s a good chance that he’ll find himself on the team’s inactive list for several weeks to come.