2016 South Side Questions: Will Daryl Richardson Be Back?

The regular season is here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the real work is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.

And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they wade through a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Question: Will Daryl Richardson be back with the team after he was released yesterday in order to make room for Le’Veon Bell’s activation?

It is not all that often that a player the Steelers sign to a Reserve/Future contract actually end up making the 53-man roster nine or 10 months later, but Daryl Richardson in 2016 was one of those rare exceptions.

Of course, unlike most Reserve players, Richardson was already a two-year veteran who has had tangible success in his NFL career, so he was arguably already ahead of the curve. But were it not for Bell’s suspension, he would not have made the roster at all.

He would, however, have probably made the practice squad, and I might wonder if the Steelers are hoping to re-sign him to the practice squad provided that he clears waivers. The team did release Brandon Brown-Dukes from the practice squad earlier this week, though they filled that spot with fellow Reserve signing, safety Jacob Hagen, after they had two safeties banged up on Sunday.

I do think that with Bell back, it is less likely that they continue to keep two running backs on the practice squad, as they had previously. In that case, it would have to be determined whom they like more between Richardson and David Cobb, whom they signed to their practice squad after he was released by the Titans at the end of August.

Cobb was a fifth-round pick of the Titans last year. He began the season on the Injured Reserve/Designated For Return List, however, with a calf injury. When he got healthy, he logged 52 carries, but for just 146 yards and one touchdown. Tennessee signed DeMarco Murray in the offseason and drafted Derrick Henry, however, which made the second-year back expendable.

The Steelers obviously like Cobb, given that they kept him over two running backs that they had with them in camp. Do they like his potential more than they like Richardson? That might be the deciding factor on whether or not Richardson returns, unless they do decide to carry two running backs again—or if he fails to clear waivers.

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