The Pittsburgh Steelers have between now and after their third game to decide which running back they want to keep on their roster between third-year backs Fitzgerald Toussaint and Daryl Richardson. Toussaint spent most of last season on the practice squad before being called up and ended up starting in the playoffs due to injury. Richardson was a Reserve/Future signing at the start of the year.
Although he is not the most impressive nor elusive of runners, the Steelers like Toussaint’s all-around game, which extends into special teams, and likely gives him the leg up over Richardson. But one of them is bound to be gone when Le’Veon Bell returns from suspension, and either could be signed to the practice squad if they are not claimed off waivers.
Toussaint didn’t get in enough work during the last preseason game to merit a recap, so I’m going to be looking at Richardson’s final preseason snaps as we head into the regular season. The first I want to look at came at the start of a drive after a false start at the 11-yard line. It was a designed screen pass, and the back was able to make two defenders miss for a nine-yard gain.
Later in the quarter, actually on a third-and-10 play, the Steelers ran a draw for Richardson. The Panthers dropped their middle linebacker from the A gap, who was picked up, and Richardson did the rest, using his natural burst and a cut, finally bowling his way forward the last five yards for a 15-yard gain.
The drive ended with a throwaway after the Panthers dropped their right end and blitzed a pair of linebackers. Richardson was able to pick up one, and then tried to make himself available to the quarterback, but the pressure produced did not allow him to turn and throw.
One thing that is certainly noticeable is that Richardson has a consistent burst while he runs. He had a six-yard run late in the third quarter after he shook a pair of tacklers near the line of scrimmage. This allows him to pick up extra yardage when he actually gets some space.
It’s somewhat amusing that technically his two biggest plays of the game are not much for review. Later on that same drive, he produced a 26-yard run, the Steelers’ longest of the preseason, but it was really the product of a well-designed play that he was able to exploit with his speed.
A couple of plays later, on third-and-seven from the 20-yard line, Richardson did a nice job of getting to the blitzing linebacker, but he allowed the rusher to swim over the top of him. Ultimately, it was no harm, no foul, and the play drew a pass interference in the end zone that set up first and goal.
Richardson himself ran it in for the touchdown on the next play, but the men up front provided him pretty easy access, so, again, not much to discuss on his two biggest plays, an explosive run and a score.