Steeler Nation, training camp is right around the bend , so we thought it might be a good time for a camp roster breakdown. In the coming days we will break down each position and give some insight on each player at that position. Now lets take a look at the Running Backs…
State of the Running Back position : The one bright spot in the Steelers’ running game last season was running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell set a new Steeler rookie record with a total of 1259 yards from scrimmage. The Steelers running game as a whole left a lot to be desired. The Steelers ranked 27th in 2013 with an average of 86.4 yards rushing per game and a 3.5 yard average per rushing attempt.Those two stats must change for the better in 2014 for the Steelers to have success. Speaking of change the Steelers backfield has made significant changes since 2013. Gone are Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones .
In are free agent pick up LeGarrette Blount and rookie Dri Archer . Blount and Archer look to be big upgrades. The hiring of offensive line coach Mike Munchak also should help the running game. After Bell,Blount and Archer the competition for the 4th spot is wide open with unproven backs Alvester Alexander,Tauren Poole,Miguel Maysonet and Jordan Hall.
The bottom line is with Le’Veon Bell gaining a year of NFL experience,the addition of LeGarrette Blount ,rookie Dri Archer and O-line coach Mike Munchak the Steelers running game should be on the up swing and for the Steelers to have team success it better be.
A look at the Running Backs…
Le’Veon Bell: Bell looks to build on a fantastic rookie debut after he had a total of 860 yards rushing and also had 45 catches for 399 total receiving yards. Bell has all the makings of a great NFL feature running back and should even be better in 2014.
LeGarrette Blount: Blount 27, 6-0 250 is a ground and pound runner that is starter capable.He has very quick feet for a man his size. In 2013 he played for the New England Patriots running for 772 yards for a 5 yard average and 7 touchdowns. Blount should be a great switch up back teaming up with Bell, a luxury the Steelers have been missing in the past.
Dri Archer: Archer ( 5-8-173) is a rookie chosen in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Kent State. He ran an official time of 4.26 seconds in the 40 yard dash in his first attempt at the NFL Combine. He has ultra speed, with the ability to run and catch the football. He started 21-of-47 games at Kent State.During his Kent State career he totaled 2,342 yards with 24 touchdowns on 325 carries (7.21 ypc). He had 99 catches for 1,194 yards (12.06 ypc) and 12 touchdowns receiving. The Steelers plan to get the ball in his hands in open space as much as possible.
Will Johnson: Johnson is heading into his third season with the Steelers and is the teams only true fullback. Johnson joined the team as a 2012 free agent out of West Virginia . That season he played in all 16 games starting 7. In 2013 he saw less playing time starting only five games and seeing action in 15. The Steelers like what Johnson brings and he can be a receiving threat out of the backfeild.
Alvester Alexander: Alexander (5-11 and 213)signed with the Steelers August 2013 and spent the 2013 season on the Steelers’ practice squad. Alexander lacks any real NFL experience, running for 43 yards on 15 carries during the preseason in 2013. Alexander may have a slight edge for the 4th running back spot since he has spent a year with the team but he will have to show improvements to gain a roster spot.
Tauren Poole: Poole(5-10 210) was an undrafted rookie by the Carolina Panthers out of Tennessee in 2012 ,but spent 2012 on injured reserve. He spent 2013 on the practice squads of the Panthers and Indianapolis Colts. His best college season was his Junior season when he ran for 1,034 yards and 11 touchdowns. At this point Tauren Poole is a long shot to make the team but may stick on the practice squad.
Miguel Maysonet : Maysonet (5-10 210) came to the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 out Stony Brook (New York) and has spent time on five different teams after originally being signed by the Philadelphia Eagles in April 2013. He signed a Reserve/Future contract with the Steelers in January 2014. Miguel Maysonet showed some promise his senior year at Stony Brook (New York) rushing for 1,964 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns his senior season. His chance right now of making the roster should be considered slim with a chance for the practice squad.
Jordan Hall: Hall (5-9 191) signed with the Steelers in June 2014 . He is a local kid who played high school football at Jeannette High and then went to Ohio State where he was a return specialist and backup to running back Carlos Hyde, who was drafted in the second round by the 49ers. Halls best season at Ohio State he ran for a career-high 536 yards as a senior. Hall is a long shot to make the team.
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