With DeAngelo Williams’ status uncertain – and maybe that’s a generous, optimistic word to use – for Saturday’s playoff game, the hopes of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ running game will rely on Fitzgerald Toussaint.
It isn’t an ideal situation, but Mike Tomlin has confidence in Fitz proving his worth.
“He’s a talented and hard-working guy. He displays that for us on a day-to-day basis,” Tomlin said to the media Tuesday. “Not only since he’s been called up and active but when he was serving us in a scout team capacity when he was a practice squader. He brings a no-nonsense, blue-collar approach that I’m sure Steelers’ Nation would appreciate. And I’m sure they’re going to grow to like him in the manner we do.”
He was also quick to point out his confidence in Toussaint in the passing game, noting that Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t sacked in Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Browns.
It’s important to keep in mind this is a Tomlin press conference, where every player sounds like a superstar. But it’s clear the team has liked what Toussaint has done. He’s rapidly progressed up the pecking order. From a practice squad afterthought, to active roster, to the top backup, and now starter, this isn’t all fluff from Tomlin. The Steelers have had several other candidates to be that “next man up” at the position, and they’ve flamed out: Dri Archer, Jordan Todman, Isaiah Pead.
And now it appears Toussaint will get that opportunity in the Wild Card game. The results will have to be better though. He rushed for 24 yards on 12 carries against a league-worst Browns’ run defense, though an equal and perhaps more blame falls on the offensive line.
The Steelers don’t have to run to victory against the Cincinnati Bengals, but it’s going to have to be a bigger threat than last week or even more appropriately, last year’s playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens.