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2016 Midseason Review: Running Backs

We still have some time to kill before the Pittsburgh Steelers get back on the field, and their bye week happens to have fallen at a pretty appropriate time, so over the course of this week, we are going to bring you a sort of quick-hitter review of how the team has performed on a positional basis.

Position: Running Backs

Le’Veon Bell: So, this Le’Veon Bell guy I’ve been hearing about is pretty good. If only he could spend less time suspended at home and more time in the end zone. Bell, of course, missed the first three games of the 2016 season due to a suspension, and while his statistical output so far has been impeccable, he has yet to score a touchdown—though he did catch a pass for a two-point conversion.

As a runner, he has been remarkable. He has 344 rushing yards on just 69 carries, averaging five yards per carry, and he is averaging about four yards per carry after contact, which says something about how much of his production he makes on his own. He is also contributing to the receiving game more than ever, and often lining up out wide to take advantage of his polished route-running and the mismatch opportunities that creates.

DeAngelo Williams: DeAngelo Williams was a big part of the Steelers’ offense for the first three games of the season—or, at least the first two games. In the opener, he rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns. The following game, while he only averaged about three yards per rush, he gained 90 yards on the ground and another 40 through the air, including a receiving touchdown. Since Bell has returned, however, he has struggled to find opportunities, and been able to capitalize on many of those he did get.

Fitzgerald Toussaint: While Fitzgerald Toussaint was the top backup for the first three games, he wasn’t much of a factor, nor did he get many touches. On the season, he has just five touches, including four carries for 10 yards and a nine-yard reception. He also serves as the up back on kick returns, and has returned several of them.

Daryl Richardson: Daryl Richardson barely played during the first three games of the season, and he carried the ball twice for seven yards. In his very limited snaps, he actually lined up out wide a few times. He was moved to the practice squad when Bell was activated to the 53-man roster.

Notes: The Steelers to have another running back on the practice squad, and one who has some in-house familial ties. A few weeks back, the team signed second-year running back Karlos Williams to the practice squad after he finished serving a four-game suspension.

With Richardson and Williams, the Steelers actually have a fairly impressive combination of running backs on the practice squad with meaningful NFL experience in their histories. For Williams, at least, he may have a future on the 53-man roster beyond this season, perhaps replacing DeAngelo Williams.

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