With the news surfacing Friday morning concerning Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell possibly facing a four-game suspension, it sounds pretty evident that veteran DeAngelo Williams will more than likely start in his place a second straight season. This year, however, Williams’ backups could possibly be quite a bit better than the few the Steelers had last season.
Last year, the Steelers chose to open the first two games with Dri Archer, Jordan Todman and H-back Will Johnson all serving as backups to Williams. As it turned out, only Johnson and Todman received carries in those first two games that Bell missed due to suspension, a combined five to be exact. By the way, Archer, Todman and Johnson are all gone now.
While Williams was able to cover magnificently for Bell during the first two games of the 2015 season, you have to wonder if it would be smart to not put the full workload on him in those first four games that Bell looks like he’ll miss this season. Currently, Fitzgerald Toussaint is slated to be the Steelers No. 3 running back entering training camp and while he did have a critical fumble during last year’s playoff loss to the Denver Broncos, he was quite impressive in his playing time prior to that.
Toussaint showed us last season that he can function without the football in his hands and that’s just as important as his performance when asked to carry the football. While he won’t likely see much action during the first quarter of the season if he wins the No. 3 spot out of training camp, he can handle a series here and there and thus spell Williams occasionally.
While we hope we never have to see him play at all, Daryl Richardson is yet another experienced running back currently on the Steelers 90-man roster. Richardson, who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft, has 167 career carries for 690 yards and 38 receptions for another 284 yards.
Obviously, Williams will be leaned on heavily should Bell ultimately miss time. With that said, the Steelers appear to be a little better insulated depth wise behind Williams as we sit here in late July. Also, don’t rule out the possibility of another experienced running back being added to the competition during the next several weeks.