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 the Steelers get running back DeAngelo Williams back by their next game? And if they do, will they use him?
Anybody who has followed the Steelers over the course of the past two years will be aware of how important 2015 free agent signing DeAngelo Williams has been to the team in that span. Not only has he filled in admirably in the past two years during two suspensions for starting running back Le’Veon Bell, he became a worthy starting in his own right last year when Bell went down with a knee injury—even leading the league in rushing touchdowns.
But the 2016 season has been his turn to deal with ailments, and he has been dealing with a nagging knee injury that seemed to threaten to sideline him for a good while. There have been reports that he might be ready to return after the long layoff between now and their next game against the Giants, however.
While the Steelers don’t make much use of a second running back when Bell is healthy, it is still important for them to have a backup that can handle the load, when you consider their recent playoff history and a striking lack of starting running backs going back for several years now.
It is notable that the Steelers actually gave Bell some plays off on Thursday against the Colts, even if he still had 27 touches during the game, and one might wonder what that would mean for Williams’ return and his usage rate.
But it should also be noted that Bell had a career-high touches in the Steelers’ previous game—which was on Sunday. The heavy workload combined with the short turnaround time may have been the only reason Bell even came off the field at all.
What sort of scenario will be awaiting Williams when he returns from injury—whenever that might actually be? Well, he got a total of nine carries and one reception in the four games that he played while healthy after Bell returned from suspension. We will see if anything changes.