With all the injuries at the running back position this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have played hot potato with the rock as they have had to use a time share with their running backs. While most teams would struggle when forced to rely on their second string, third string and even fourth string running back at times, the Steelers have found varying degrees of success.
For the third game in a row, the Steelers have essentially spun a wheel to determine which running back would lead the way and this week it fell on Trey Edmunds, who rushed for 73 yards on 12 carries. That is now the third game in a row that a different running back has recorded at least 70 rushing yards as James Conner ran for 145 yards last week and Benny Snell rushed for 75 yards against the Los Angeles Chargers.
It is the first time since 1994 that the Steelers have had three different running backs rush for over 70 yards over three consecutive games. Back in 1994 it was Barry Foster, Bam Morris and John Williams who accomplished the feat over weeks 13-15.
Foster: 88 rushing yards @ LA Raiders (Week 13)
Morris: 108 rushing yards @ Cincinnati Bengals (Week 14)
Williams: 94 rushing yards vs Philadelphia Eagles (Week 15)
Edmunds’ big day put the finishing touches on a historic day for the running back room but that was not the only historic feat that the backs put together last Sunday. It is hard to talk about the current state of the Steelers’ running backs without mentioning their versatility and that means Jaylen Samuels deserves some recognition.
Samuels broke the Steelers record for most receptions by a running back in a game on Sunday with 13 receptions but that is not the only historic feat he has been a part of. Together, Samuels and Conner have each flashed in the passing game, serving as great check down options for young quarterback Mason Rudolph. The commodity to have not one but two receiving backs to work with is not a common commodity found throughout Steelers history.
For just the fourth time in the team’s history, the Steelers have had two running backs record over 70 receiving yards in a game this season as Samuels’ 73 receiving yards Sunday made them join this exclusive club.
Years in which the Steelers had a 70-yard receiving performance by two or more RBs:
2019: James Conner (x2), Jaylen Samuels
2015: Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams
1988: Merril Hoge, Dwight Stone (x2), Rodney Carter
1983: Walter Abercrombie, Franco Harris
While these may seem like obscure feats, they do speak volumes to the versatility and next man up mentality that the Steelers have seemingly embraced all season. Whether it be at the quarterback, cornerback, defensive line or running back position, the Steelers have had to dig deep for production at times and those waiting in the ranks have done what is necessary to help the team claw back to a .500 record.
Take out even just one of the four running back’s biggest games this season and it is certainly possible that the Steelers are no longer 4-4. Whether it be Conner, Samuels, Snell or even Edmunds, the running back room has breathed life into Mike Tomlin’s next man up catch phrase.
If you want to know what the words “next man up” are all about look no further than the Steelers running back room.