When it came to the offensive side of the ball for the Pittsburgh Steelers last night, the home team had a pretty dismal showing overall, with a few bright spots here and there, accented by one drive in the second quarter that was capitulated with a touchdown pass via explosive play.
But if there was one consistently bright spot during the game on that side of the ball for the Steelers, then it would have to be running back Daryl Richardson, who is competing for a spot on the 53-man roster, which would be a task made much easier if Le’Veon Bell’s suspension is upheld.
Of course, Richardson is hoping to make the roster regardless of that, and if he did make the roster in that case, it may be for a limited time. In order to maintain his place on the roster, he would have to beat out third-year running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, who climbed from the practice squad at the start of the season to starting in the postseason for the Steelers last year, though that was an awfully circuitous route.
One would think that Toussaint is in the driver’s seat to command the third running back position on the roster this year, but Richardson intends to give him a run for his money, and he got his opportunity last night by receiving the most playing time among all the running backs.
In fact, Richardson, a former Ram who had a successful rookie season, and then—well—not much else since then, was the only player on the Steelers’ roster last night to receive more than two carries. In fact, he accounts for more than half of the team’s total carries.
In all, he carried the ball 11 times for 44 yards, and I don’t think I have to point out how difficult a chore it can be during the preseason to average four yards per carry or better. Typically, second- and third-string defensive lines trump their offensive line counterparts.
In truth, much of Richardson’s yardage was hard-earned, and came after contact, or after evading a would-be tackler, and some of that yardage is hidden. There was a play in which he gained no yards, but made a tackler miss three yards in the backfield, for example.
The running back also connected on two screen passes for 16 yards, and showed ably as a blocker, which is not only something that he has said that he takes pride in, but which he has backed up with his performance in that regard during training camp, which is exactly the sort of combination of mentality and performance that got Toussaint in the position he was last year. Add to that a 25-yard kick return that displayed good burst.
When Richardson runs, he has a burst to his game that is somewhat deceptive, and he also showed traits last night of patience in the backfield, waiting for the hole to open, though that is something to be developed further. In his bid to make the 53-man roster, last night was a good start.