Down an offensive lineman and two of their top running backs, it should not be surprising that the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t necessarily have the greatest day running the ball on the ground that they have had all season. Though Jaylen Samuels’ 10 yards on eight carries proved to be highly disappointing, however, there was some life for Trey Edmunds in his first extended action with the Steelers.
Having been called up from the practice squad following Samuels’ own injury several weeks ago, Edmunds got his first carry as a Steeler last week, and that was only because he was the last healthy running back on the 53-man roster at the time. But he got a more extended look today, finishing the game with 12 carries for 73 yards.
Granted, 45 of those 73 yards came on his first touch, a breakout run that was the longest by a running back for Pittsburgh in a while. On his remaining 11 rushing attempts, he gained just 28 yards, averaging just two and a half yards per carry, so there were definitely some unsuccessful runs in there.
It does, however, show the coaching staff enough, I think, to feel comfortable relying upon Edmunds as a number two back if necessary, which was the case today, and could remain the case next week. We know that Benny Snell will miss more than one game after having a cleanup procedure on his injured knee, but it’s not clear that James Conner will be back in time for the team’s next game, either.
That would mean that it’s once again Samuels and Edmunds, and the Steelers will have to have five halfbacks on the roster for another week. Not they exactly have any pressing needs or players of interest that they would need to add to the 53-man roster, but it’s obviously unusual to have five running backs plus a halfback on the team. Sometimes injuries dictate unusual roster makeups, however. They now have more halfbacks and fullbacks than they do wide receivers.
At this point, it’s likely at least that Edmunds will remain on the 53-man roster for the remainder of the season. Not only is he now shown to be offensive-capable if necessary, he is also a quality special teams player, and he recorded a tackle on a safety kick which, in conjunction with Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, forced a fumble deep in opponent territory.
There is an opportunity for him to carve out a standout role for himself on special teams and make the case for a more long-term stability. The Steelers have kept four running backs somewhat regularly in the past, and if they can contribute on special teams, especially as a coverage guy, then the opportunity is there for them.