If you came into yesterday’s game expecting Trey Edmunds to get more work in the running game than Jaylen Samuels and establish a new career-high in touches, then you get a cookie for your clever insight. Samuels got just eight carries for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their win over the Indianapolis Colts; meanwhile, Edmunds ran the ball 12 times, gaining 73 yards, that in spite of the fact that he suffered a rib injury at some point along the way.
Edmunds, the elder brother of Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds and Buffalo Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, has been with the team since the start of the 2018 season when they signed him to the practice squad after the New Orleans Saints let him go.
He spent most of the year on the practice squad, but was called up for the final four games of that season when James Conner got injured, though he was not given any opportunities to work on offense. He would not have ever touched the ball this year either had injuries not mounted, ultimately with two backs going down ahead of him in the same game last week.
That resulted in it being just him and Samuels—and a practice squad signing recently called up—available for yesterday’s game, with the former making his return from a knee injury and never really being a bellcow ball carrier sort. So that role sort of went to Edmunds as the game developed.
“Trey is a one-cut, downhill type of a guy”, Mike Tomlin said in his post-game press conference when asked about the workload distribution at the running back position. “Obviously Jaylen is good out of the backfield. It was a nice division of labor. Simply, Edmunds replaced Conner in a lot of ways in terms of the things that they specialize in doing. But we did what we needed to do given the current circumstances this week. It’s not reflective of how we move forward. We’ll see what our mix of guys are next week positionally”.
More or less, Tomlin said that they did what they wanted to do and had planned to do for this game, but they understand that what suits them best could evolve week to week. If Conner and Benny Snell remain out against the Los Angeles Rams, however, will we still see Edmunds get more carries than Samuels as the latter specializes more on passing downs?
While Edmunds’ performance overall was a mixed bag, influenced by the varying quality of the blocking and the questionable play-calling relative to the circumstances, I do think at least that he showed the coaching staff he is a viable option to receive playing time, should they need another back.