Even though Pittsburgh Steelers running back Fitzgerald Toussaint registered 201 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 54 total touches last year, most fans of the team will only remember his fourth quarter fumble late in the playoff loss to the Denver Broncos. With that said, Steelers offensive coordinator said Wednesday that one play shouldn’t define Toussaint’s brief career so far with the team.
“We were very clear about that from the beginning,” said Haley in an interview that was played Thursday morning on Steelers Nation Radio. “The guy, a couple of plays he made in the Cincinnati game, to even get us into that position were huge plays – [the ones] he made in the Denver game were big plays. We were clear right almost when that game ended to make sure that everybody understood that wasn’t the reason why we weren’t moving on. You can’t just look at one play. There were probably seven or eight plays in that game that could’ve made a difference. So, I think everybody’s done their due diligence with Fitz on making sure there’s no carryover from that.”
If things go as planned during the 2016 season, the only time Toussaint’s likely to touch the football during a meaningful 2016 regular season game will be late in a fourth quarter with the Steelers leading comfortably on the scoreboard. This assumes, of course, that Toussaint winds up making the 53-man roster as the team’s No. 3 running back and as of right now, one has to like his chances of doing just that. Should, however, those plans go awry due to injuries, at least the former undrafted Michigan product already has some real-game experience under his belt.
Being as veteran backup running back DeAngelo Williams is now 33 and entering the final year of his current contract with the Steelers, Toussaint could quite possibly become the team’s No. 2 ball-carrier in 2017 if he’s able to stick around the entire 2016 season. While his current contract also expires after the 2016 season, the Steelers can easily retain him next offseason being as he’ll be an exclusive rights free agent.
While Toussaint really wasn’t labeled as a fumbler coming out of college, he did put the football on the ground his fair share of times. In fact, he fumbled a total of 6 times on 533 total offensive touches in the 40 career games he played in at Michigan. With his latest fumble being so costly, moving forward, he needs to take great pride in holding onto the football throughout the rest of the offseason and during the team’s preseason games. He’s sure to get quite a bit of playing time during the preseason and thus needs to show that he can put that one costly blemish behind him quickly as his future in Pittsburgh and the NFL will certainly depend on it. So far this offseason, it appears as though he’s making strides in the right direction.
“It was a bad play,” said Haley. “It happened at the wrong time so a little more light shines on it, but I think the kid, from what I’ve seen so far, has been working hard and he’s stepped it up.”