With the new breaking last night—courtesy of our own Alex Kozora—that Pittsburgh Steelers star running Le’Veon Bell back suffered a torn MCL in yesterday’s bitter loss, which is expected to end his season, the team has every intention of moving forward with DeAngelo Williams, who will be the starting running back for the second half of the season.
But this is a different situation than the one that the veteran was in to start the season, knowing that he would be starting two games just until Bell returned from his suspension. At that time, the Steelers were not concerned about giving him a full workload as he rushed for over 200 yards and added three touchdowns in those first two weeks on over 40 carries.
Now, Williams is expected to start eight games, at least, and however many games Pittsburgh finds itself in during the postseason, should they make it back there this year. And there is reason to wonder whether the 32-year-old veteran might not wear down with overuse during that time.
The former first-round pick had an injury-plagued 2014 season, though you wouldn’t know it by looking at him, and in fact already has one more carry this year than he had all of last year.
But the fact of the matter is that, in his 10-year career, he has only carried the ball over 200 times just three times, with one of those being 201. He has carried the ball over 250 times just once after spending most of his career in a complementary backfield.
Should Williams average, say, 20 carries per game over the course of the next eight games, that would give him over 220 carries on the year, which would be the second-most of his career, though, to be fair, his 201-carry season came in just 2013.
But with this in mind, it would seem reasonable that the Steelers would be interested in incorporating Jordan Todman into the offense, who has now been integrated into the system after playing an absolutely marginal role to start the season.
Todman is a veteran who was signed the day after final cuts to serve as depth while Bell was out. He has just one carry on the season, but it was a good one—an 11-yarder for a game-sealing first down in the second week of the season.
The journeyman back is a jack of all trades, with some aptitude for running the ball as well as receiving it, and has served as the up back on kick returns in addition to other roles on special teams, notching two tackles thus far on the season.
The young 25-year-old has little tread on his tires in spite of his veteran status, in his fourth season in the league, and he has found success in his brief stints of playing time. The Steelers should want to work him into the offense on occasion—and Dri Archer as well—to lighten some of the load on Williams, whom they will need to help take them as far as fate will allow in 2015.