We won’t know for sure whether or not Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell will miss the first four games of the 2016 regular season for reportedly violating the league’s substance abuse policy as his appeal won’t be heard for a few more weeks. Regardless of whether or not his suspension stands, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley said Friday in an interview with 93.7 The Fan that his game plan won’t change when it comes to whoever carries the football at the start of the regular season.
“I think we’re going to go business as usual,” said Haley. “We’re trying to get everybody ready and in position to be ready when the season starts against Washington. So, I think that’s the only way we can do it as a coaching staff is do our best as coaches to get everybody to their best possibly place as a football player to help us start the season the right way
Haley was asked to talk about the depth of the running back position as the team’s 2016 training camp gets underway in Latrobe and while he didn’t mention any of the other younger ball carriers currently on the 90-man roster, he did talk about veteran DeAngelo Williams and the confidence he has in him should he once again have to be the starter to open the regular season.
“I think with DWill we’ve got one of the best so-called backup backs in the league,” said Haley of Williams, who rushed for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015. “He’s a No.1 running back, if you will, I believe. And in addition, compared to last year at this time, we knew some things about him, but we didn’t see him in action with us, working with us every day and to have that body of work now, I think is a huge confidence boost for everybody, if it were to go the wrong way.”
While Williams will obviously be the starter should Bell wind up missing any time at the start of the season, it’s unclear as to how the pecking order behind him will ultimately shake out. Currently, Fitzgerald Toussaint looks to be the team’s No. 3 running back at the start of training camp and one would think he should make the final 53-man roster regardless of what happens with Bell. If, however, Bell’s suspension does stand following his appeal, the Steelers might need to carry another running back on their roster at the start of the season. As we sit here today, Daryl Richardson, Cameron Stingily, Brandon Brown-Dukes, and Brandon Johnson are all battling for that potential spot on the depth chart.
“In our case, you’re aren’t making any kind of overall changes, you’re just continuing to get to know your personnel, because we do have new pieces coming and going and my philosophy always has been, is do what your players do best. I’m not a system guy by any means. We have a language, communication, but hey, let’s put these players in the best possible position to succeed and go forward.”