Despite Addition Of Blount, Steelers Still Might Want To Re-sign Stephens-Howling Once Healthy

On Friday, the Pittsburgh Steelers effectively added an experienced running back to their roster to backup starter Le’Veon Bell when they signed LeGarrette Blount, but they likely will need to add another one to help on third downs between now and the start of training camp.

While Blount does have 579 carries to his credit during his first four seasons in the league, he’s pretty much just a two down running back. In fact, in the 56 regular season games that he’s played in so far during his career, Blount has yet to record a third down reception and has only carried the ball a total of 23 times on third down.

Last season as a rookie, Bell recorded 45 receptions and that’s nearly double the 23 that Blount has registered during his first four years in the league.

The Steelers will more than likely draft a running back in May that has experience as a pass catcher out of the backfield, but they still might need one more experienced player to help out in that area initially in 2014. That player very well could wind up being LaRod Stephens-Howling, who is still recovering from the knee injury that he suffered last year in the season opener against the Tennessee Titans.

Currently, Stephens-Howling is an unsigned unrestricted free agent. In addition, he is still not even seven months removed from his injury. So, until he’s cleared to practice, there’s no real reason to rush to re-sign him. It should be noted, however, that the Minnesota Vikings were recently reported as keeping close tabs on the Pittsburgh product as he continues his rehab and that makes since being as Kirby Wilson, formerly of the Steelers, is now their new running backs coach.

In the meantime, the Steelers will likely address the running back position in the draft and sign a few undrafted free agent bodies to get them through the OTA and mini camp practices. Come June 2nd, they will receive an additional $8 million in salary cap space once the release of linebacker LaMarr Woodley becomes official and at that point can re-sign Stephens-Howling, who will then be nearly nine months removed from his injury.

While it’s still early on in the offseason, it’s not hard to speculate that the Steelers will likely want to carry at least four running backs on their 53 man roster in 2014. We know that Bell, Blount and a draft pick will most likely wind up being three of those four players and I’m willing to bet they expect Stephens-Howling to be the fourth. If not him, I expect another third down capable free agent back will be added for the minimum after June 2nd.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    That’s my preferred scenario, also. LSH is not only a good 3rd down back, but can also return kicks, and is a capable backup, just in case. If you doubt this, go check out what he did 2 years ago while with the Cards. In Minnesota, he had something like 190 yards rushing and receiving in a spot start. And the Vikes actually had a good D that year.

    Here’s hoping he has an Adrian Peterson type recovery, and does not lose his cutting ability, which is key for someone like LSH.

  • steeltown

    I fully expect him to be resigned, if healthy

  • dgh57

    I don’t know that much about them but Maysonet, Poole, and Alexander(who are already on the roster)may also have a say in all this(as one of the 4 RBs)when all is said and done.

  • Soliciting Steelers

    Seastrunk or Thomas in the draft, or maybe both 🙂 if not then LSH. He’s gotta prove that he’s same player after injury.

  • joed32

    Last year was the only year that Blount returned KOs but he did have a respectable average of 29.1. Last year Felix Jones had a 22.2 average for Pittsburgh.

  • steelster

    He had a nice preseason last year and I hope they bring him back.

  • Steve

    A lot harder for a running back to come back from knee surgery than a TE. Even after Miller returned last year he was not his normal self until the end of the year. Peterson had a fabulous return but he is an extraordinary person. Being that the ACL surgery for LSH was in September, still may be 3-5 months for a full recovery.

  • Steve

    Blount did well returning kicks, His problem was aggressive play that has cost him in his past both in college and in the pros.

  • Steve

    Black Mamba would be a Great pickup in the mid rounds.

  • Tone Bone

    I’m sorry but there is only one black mamba. and he plays on the NBA. But LSH would be a decent 3rd back. I also wouldn’t mind them kicking tires on Anthony Spencer.

  • steelster

    I live in Oregon and have watched black mamba’s career and the steelers shouldn’t draft him. He will be a slot receiver in the nfl and at best be as good as dexter mccluster. Black Mamba is also injury prone.

  • dennisdoubleday

    29.1 is more than respectable–5th best in the league, I think Dave posted. I would be ecstatic if we got that out of him

  • Patrick Reid

    Poole especially.

  • joed32

    In college maybe but in 5 years as a pro he has been penalized 2 times, both in 2011. Once for holding and once for roughness. His rep is a lot worse than his actions.

  • Steve

    Check out RB De’Anthony Thomas with Oregon. This is his Nick Name that I didn’t make up. He was featured in an article here.

  • wilsonmjw

    If this guy didn’t play for sPitt, would ANYONE be talking about him right now?
    If there is a midseason injury and we need someone urgently… fine.

    Otherwise, the Steelers need some who can go at 100% on opening week.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    I agree. I think steeler Nation gets overly sentimental about local products(LSH), good guys ( Foote), and overachievers ( Beachum). We need good quality players who are healthy.

  • Ben Anderson

    Dri Archer in the 5th or so.
    I haven’t been a fan of LSH’s since 2010 and obviously the Cards felt the same, which is why they let him walk. I know he’s popular in the Burgh because he played at Pitt, but the Steelers need to stop trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.