There are going to be a lot of lists and rankings from now until the start of the 2016 regular season as that’s par for the course during the offseason. On Monday, former NFL running back and current analyst LaDainian Tomlinson was asked to name his top 5 ball carriers from last season and he listed Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams third overall behind Jonathan Stewart and Adrian Peterson.
“DeAngelo came into the year, he wasn’t expected to be the starter, obviously, Le’Veon Bell is the bell cow there, but Le’Veon goes down and DeAngelo looked like he had a resurgence, like he was young again,” said Tomlinson. “The guy looked 25. Quick feet, fast through the hole, even showed that burst. Over 8 touchdowns in the final 8 games. This guy had a phenomenal season.”
Williams, who was signed by the Steelers early last offseason following him being released by the Carolina Panthers, certainly came up big for Pittsburgh after starting running back Le’Veon Bell was lost for the remainder of the year after suffering a serious knee injury in the week 8 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. In addition to that, the veteran Williams had to carry the load during the first two weeks of the 2015 season being as Bell was forced to sit out due to his suspension.
In the 9 games that Williams played in that Bell was sidelined for, he rushed for 631 yards and 9 touchdowns on 151 carries. In addition to being a force on the ground in those 9 games, Williams also caught 33 passes for another 265 yards. In total, those 896 yards equated to an average of 4.8 yards each time he touched the football.
Williams ended the season with 1,274 combined yards and that ranked him 24th overall in the league. That’s not bad for a running back who many thought would be at best a change of pace back last season.
Its unfortunate that Williams missed both of the Steelers playoff games due to foot injury that suffered in the regular season finale as the team sure could have used his experience in both of those contests and especially in the Divisional Round loss to the Denver Broncos.
Williams will be back again in 2016 once again and while he’s unlikely to see the amount of work that he received last season barring another injury to Bell, he is more than capable of being an every-down back should the need arise.
Top 5 RBs of 2015 (via @LT_21):
— NFL (@NFL) February 16, 2016