Most of us were expecting a pretty bland roster move. James Conner needed knee surgery, ending his year, and opening up a spot for another running back. Bring up Terrell Watson, sitting right there on the practice squad, and call it a day. Not so fast. The Steelers chose to go outside the organization and pickup veteran back Stevan Ridley. Ridley was quickly inserted into the lineup, jumping Fitzgerald Toussaint to be the #2 back, and in a blowout win, wound up seeing nine carries for 28 yards.
A day at the office Mike Tomlin seemed pretty pleased with.
“It was just good to be in a stadium with him,” Tomlin said at his Tuesday presser. “And see his gameday demeanor. He’s a pleasant guy. He’s a put-his-hand-in-the-pile type of a guy. We’ll continue to work with him in terms of finding detail and etching out a role for him and getting him in top flight football condition. All of those things are on the table with him. But not displeased with what he’s done so far and his mentality of the challenges in front of him.”
Ridley was last with the Minnesota Vikings for a cup of coffee in October after spending all of camp with the Denver Broncos. Despite being out of football for two months, you immediately saw some of the burst he had, already clearly more than anything Toussaint brings to the table. That’ll only get better as Ridley gets fully into football form.
“I not only met him at his Pro Day, but I’ve seen him at subsequent Pro Days. As a professional, he goes back to Baton Rouge and trains. I just have a lot of respect for him. Got to know him over the years, and I always thought if given the opportunity to work with him, I’d be open to it. I like his style of play. The opportunities aligned, he was available, and I look forward to working with him over the next couple of weeks.”
It’s one of those hidden benefits of having a head coach in their 11th year. They can call on previous experiences in the league. Like seeing a player at his college’s Pro Day year after year. So when the time comes and a roster spot is open, the evaluation is easy. There’s no concern about what type of guy you’re signing. Plug and play. That’s what the Steelers are doing with Stevan Ridley.