LaRod Stephens-Howling is a fifth year running back who is very familiar with Heinz Field. Stephens-Howling played for the the Pittsburgh Panthers at the collegiate level, and played every home game in Heinz Field. During his time at Pitt, Stephens-Howling ran for 1,959 yards and 15 touchdowns, on top of 454 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown, and one kick return touchdown.
The Arizona Cardinals drafted Stephens-Howling in the 7th round of the 2009 draft. In his four seasons with the Cardinals, Stephens-Howling has played in 57 games and has recorded 5 rushing touchdowns, 3 receiving touchdowns, and 3 kick return touchdowns. What can the change of pace running back bring to the table?
Special Teams: LaRod Stephens-Howling is an exceptional kick returner, however, he has not returned a kickoff for a touchdown since the ball has been moved to the 35-yard line. His last return for a touchdown in 2010. Since then, his longest return has been for 38 yards. Stephens-Howling’s role as kick returner decreased in 2012 when his offensive role increased. He was the starting running back in 5 games.
Change of Pace: The Pitt Panther alumni can be a definite change of pace from assumed starting running back Le’Veon Bell in 2013. Stephens-Howling ran for a career high 356 yards for 4 touchdowns in 2012.
Third Down: Stephens-Howling is capable of getting out in the open and catching the ball. In an interview on Steelers.com, Stephens-Howling told reports:
“I hope I can bring a change of pace to this offense,” said Stephens-Howling. “I seen a lot of third down opportunities that Todd Haley has always had in other places, so it’s a great opportunity for me and I’m just competing to be able to help out in September.”
Stephens-Howling is in a battle competing for a job that will most likely not hold onto four running backs. He must show that he can bring all of these traits to the table to have a job in the same town he played college football at for four years.