During the 2013 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed then-free agent running back LaRod Stephens-Howling to a one-year contract. However, after a nice showing during the preseason, the University of Pittsburgh product tore the ACL in his right knee in the season opener against the Tennessee Titans. That meant he was done for the year after playing only 15 offensive snaps and returning one kickoff. Thanks to a Sunday report by Mike Mastovich of The Tribune-Democrat, we now have an update on Stephens-Howling’s rehab.
“I’ve been feeling great. The rehabbing is going great,” said Stephens-Howling, according to Mastovich’s story. “I feel like I’m real close to being 100 percent. They’re saying definitely by February.”
Stephens-Howling, who also said that he is being careful not to rush the process on the road to getting himself back fully healthy, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent once again come March. The Steelers aren’t expected to be in a rush to re-sign him, however, and the same goes for other teams around the league with him coming off a serious knee injury.
Currently, the Steelers only have two running backs in the form of starter LeVeon Bell and practice squad member Alvester Alexander under contract for 2014, so at some point during the offseason there will definitely be more bodies added at the position. One of those bodies could come late in the 2014 NFL Draft, while another one might be Jonathan Dwyer, who like Stephens-Howling, will also be an unrestricted free agent come March. If Stephens-Howling can prove that he is fully healthy during the spring, perhaps he will be given an opportunity via another one-year contract for the minimum to prove himself during training camp.
While anything is possible, Steelers aren’t expected to re-sign Felix Jones during the offseason. Should that indeed be the case, the team could certainly use Stephens-Howling to return kickoffs in 2014 in addition to serving as depth at the running back position. Those decisions, however, won’t have to be made for several more months and until he’s cleared medically by the team doctors, the Steelers won’t have to go far to find him.
“I still do my rehab with the Steelers,” said Stephens-Howling. “I’m there all week.”