Prior to Pittsburgh Steelers running back LaRod Stephens-Howling reporting to Latrobe for his first training camp with his new team, the former University of Pittsburgh star was back in his hometown of Johnstown making appearance at a Youth Fitness Day event. While there, the running back was asked by Shawn Curtis of The Tribune Democrat to define his role with the Steelers.
“Before I even signed, (the Steelers) said I’d be worked in as a third-down back and special teams in the kick-return game,” Stephens-Howling told the paper. “Pretty much the role I’m in now. I just gotta go into camp and work to keep that role.”
While the Steelers certainly hope second-round draft pick Le\'Veon Bell turns into an every-down back on offense, we might see a division of labor in the backfield to start the season, regardless of who is named the starting running back initially. During his four years with the Arizona Cardinals, Stephens-Howling has not only built himself a good reputation as a kick returner, but an adequate pass protector as well, even though he is considered undersized by NFL standards.
Perhaps one of the most understated stats related to Stephens-Howling is the fact that he has only fumbled the football just once during his four years in the league. When you consider he\'s touched the ball 401 times via rushes, receptions and returns since coming into the league, you can\'t help but be impressed with that stat.
The Steelers of course will allow other young players to compete for the kick return job during training camp, but baring Stephens-Howling all of sudden getting fumblitis, or undrafted speedster Reggie Dunn taking three to the house during the preseason, his roster spot is virtually guaranteed at this point.