The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will the Steelers keep five running backs on the 53-man roster for the remainder of the season?
I really don’t feel like doing the dirty work just for the sake of this daily question, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if the Steelers aren’t the only team in the NFL right now who has five true halfbacks on their 53-man roster right now, then they are unquestionably one of very few.
It didn’t start off that way, of course. Even including Roosevelt Nix, they kicked off the year with four total running backs, including halfbacks James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, and Benny Snell. After Samuels suffered a knee injury and was expected to miss multiple games, however, Trey Edmunds, who had already been on the practice squad since the start of 2018, was called up.
Edmunds has had prior NFL experience and is a good contributor on special teams. He was called up for the final four games of the 2018 season when Conner was injured, and even in the finale once Conner was back, Edmunds dressed over Stevan Ridley.
Then both Conner and Snell were injured. We shuffled from Tony Brooks-James, a recent practice squad addition, to now Kerrith Whyte, Jr., who was poached from the Chicago Bears’ practice squad. Like Edmunds, he is a special teams contributor; with Ryan Switzer on the Reserve/Injured List, in fact, he is their primary kick returner.
Conner remains out with a shoulder injury, and could be still for multiple games. When he returns, however, there aren’t any obvious moves they would make. One thing they might consider is re-signing Patrick Morris once Maurkice Pouncey is reinstated and Conner is healthy, but he would just be inactive.