The Pittsburgh Steelers technically do have three healthy running backs on the roster right now. Before last week, only one of them had ever really been trusted or used substantially, that being Pro Bowler James Conner, who entered the starting role a year ago and has been the lead back this year.
With Jaylen Samuels sidelined for likely another week or two, and having already missed one game, the opportunity opened for others to contribute. In the current climate, ‘others’ meant specifically rookie Benny Snell, who rushed for 75 yards on 17 carries and contributed a 14-yard reception on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.
But he’s not the only other back on the roster. The Steelers also promoted Trey Edmunds from the practice squad. Originally signed by the New Orleans Saints in 2017, he has been with the team since the start of the 2018 season, but most of that time has been spent on the practice squad.
He did get the call-up at the end of last season, spending the final four games on the 53-man roster and playing in each of them—but only on special teams. He also only saw special teams work in last Sunday’s game, even after Conner exited with an injury, leaving only Snell at the position.
“As Coach Tomlin says, he’s varsity special teamer, and that’s what’s kept him around”, running backs coach Eddie Faulkner told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review last week during the team’s bye week. He noted that Edmunds threw a block on the last onside kick attempt in that game that allowed Cameron Sutton to cleanly field the ball, though when asked about the play, Edmunds simply said that that’s what his assignment was.
Of course, we already know that Edmunds is here for special teams. That was his primary role even during his year with the Saints, though he did get some touches on offense. The question is, will he ever be given that opportunity here? He did have some good reps in the preseason.
“Trey is a trustworthy guy”, Faulkner allowed. “I don’t have any problem with putting him in the game and knowing he’s gonna do what he needs to do”.
He says that, yet it’s hard to reconcile with the fact that they still chose not to play him last week after Conner left the game, allowing Snell to accumulate 18 touches when he came into the game with six for his career.
While I’m not campaigning for playing time for Edmunds, I don’t see why he wouldn’t be in the running to work into a rotation if the Steelers have injuries at the position. He is a veteran who’s done his part, and he’s been with the team all year, so he knows what he’s doing.