The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
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: Should the Steelers carry four running backs?
This appears to be something of a rising question as we get close and closer to a theoretical opening of training camp. With baseball’s ‘spring training’ currently under way, we have now returned major team athletics to the United States, even if the road forward for football is presently a bit more tenuous (and obviously not just because of the virus).
But let’s be honest, there’s too much at stake on both sides for the NFL and NFLPA to not reach a resolution. There will be players in training camp relatively soon. By today, all teams’ rookies are eligible to report to camp.
And when teams report on the 28th in full, or whatever it may end up looking like, the roster questions will begin. One that will be asked is how many running backs the Steelers have that are worth keeping, and whether the construction of the roster will allow for it.
Heading into camp, there seem to be three players at the position who are virtual locks, those being James Conner, Benny Snell, and rookie Anthony McFarland. There are three other running backs who return from last year’s 53-man roster: Trey Edmunds, Jaylen Samuels, and Kerrith Whyte.
Samuels has been with the team and contributed for two years now. Whyte was picked up as a rookie late last season and played in six games, contributing sparsely, but also serving as a returner. Edmunds has almost exclusively been used on special teams.
So the question is, which of these three is most deserving of a roster spot, and how would the roster have to be structured to allow for it? Is it more advantageous than alternative options? Conner’s injury history has to be taken into consideration.