We are now at a point during the offseason in which we find ourselves looking at training camp just around the corner for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the rest of the league, and a lot has changed for them over the course of the past several months. They have lost a number of players in free agency, through releases, and retirements. But they have also brought in a number of new faces to replace them.
We all know that roster turnover is an ever-present reality for today’s rosters, and it seems that over the course of the past half-decade or so even the Steelers have proven to be as susceptible to the annual shakeup as anybody. With that in mind, we should take the time to get to know some of the new faces with training camp soon to be here.
The Steelers did not sign any high-profile outside free agents this year, but they did sign a handful of bargain free agents that will be able to add depth and competition in key areas. It should be noted ironically that the three primary areas that they added to in free agency they also bolstered in the draft.
One such position was running back, where they added Knile Davis in free agency and then proceeded to draft James Conner in the third round of the draft. At the moment, both of them are getting quality reps with Le’Veon Bell having not reported to training camp with an unsigned franchise tag.
Davis was not getting the first-team reps, however, or at least the first reps, as that honor went to the ‘veteran’ of the team, Fitzgerald Toussaint, who is entering his fourth season in the league, though his third accrued season. This will be his third year in the Steelers’ organization.
Davis came over from Kansas City with a brief stop in Green Bay, and to be frank, the running back does not have the most encouraging history of carrying the ball, boasting a career yards per carry figure of something like 3.2.
This is not automatically a catastrophic concern, but when you note that it is in stark contrast to the statistics of all of the running backs that he worked with on the Chiefs’ roster over the course of the past four years, is seems clear that he is the variable.
Still, he has had flashes of success here and there over the course of his career, and much of that has come in his abilities as a return man. While he lost his job to a flashy rookie last year, he does have a solid resume as a kick returner.
Davis has claimed that he still has the 4.3 speed that he brought into the league while maintaining his size, so it will be interesting to actually get Davis into some preseason games and see how he does, ideally with the first-team offense. He will clearly have a roster battle on his hands.