Terrell Watson Shows Vision And Power In Preseason Debut

The Pittsburgh Steelers obviously did not have their full arsenal in terms of their running game last night. Not only were they absent running backs Le’Veon Bell, their All-Pro, and James Conner, the third-round rookie draft pick, but they also did not have starting offensive linemen Alejandro Villanueva and Maurkice Pouncey, the latter a perennial member of the AFC Pro Bowl roster.

Granted, the Giants did not field their full arsenal either, but even their depth is an imposing challenge, as they had among the best run defenses in the league last season. Yet the Steelers’ rushing depth held up well against their front seven. And a lot of the credit for that goes to first-year runner Terrell Watson.

Watson, out of Azusa Pacific, was one of three running backs who got the ball for Pittsburgh last night, and he also did the most with his opportunities, though they all did fairly well.

Between Watson, Fitzgerald Toussaint, and Knile Davis, the Steelers ran the ball 24 times and gained 97 yards for their efforts, which comes in just a hair above four yards per carry. That is not bad, especially if you add in a nine-yard wide receiver end-around and a 16-yard quarterback scramble to the mix.

The Steelers wanted to get a good look at Watson though, and they got one toward the end of the game, beginning with the final drive of the third quarter that bled into the fourth.

On the nine-play possession, Watson accounted for five rushes, accounting for 27 yards. He had two runs of just two yards and another that was stopped for no gain, but he also added gains of eight yards and 15 yards, the latter of which produced a rushing touchdown.

His sixth attempt of the night came on a delayed draw play on third and 10 that was simply an attempt to make something out of nothing, and his final three carries produced a total of nine yards during an end-of-game scenario attempting to run out the clock, which is what he accomplished, but in between those he ripped off another seven-yard run.

The 240-pound back, whom head coach Mike Tomlin has named “Nightmare” in honor of Christain Okoye, The Nigerian Nightmare whose records Watson broke at Azusa Pacific, has been getting a lot of attention at training camp lately, highlighted by a three-carry sequence during a recent goal line drill on which he scored all three times to give the offense an improbable come-from-behind ‘victory’.

Since then he has effectively thrown his hat into the ring. At the very least, he figures to have a prime shot at making the practice squad, but one can’t help but wonder if he could legitimately vie with Toussaint and Davis for the third running back position on the 53-man roster. In order to do so, however, he will have to show something as the up back on kick returns.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    How about a GIF or two, Matt?

  • Mrs Bighead

    He’s a big boy for sure

  • Wayne’O

    This dude looked like the most explosive back in the Steeler’s RB stable last night. If James Saxson can coach this guy up, he has a chance. Looked way better that Fitz and Davis IMO.

  • Robert E Lil

    Can you imagine looking up to tackle 240lvs after chasing Bell around the field?!

  • Ace

    Agree to that for sure. Think it was Dave that tweeted Davis looked like he was running with cement shoes. Davis did turn a couple plays out of nothing, but Watson by far looked like the best and most decisive runner. His one cut style is nice to see especially at 6-1 240. LOVE to see him play with the first team O line next week. I think he’s earned it.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Loved Watson’s TD run. Nice blocking.

    My favorite Knile Davis run was the one where he got Boswell into FG range. He had to dodge around to get the necessary yardage.

  • Joseph Shaw

    Would like to see him get a few carries with the ones at some point.

  • MP

    I think running back is one of the hardest positions to evaluate without a ton of reps.

  • nutty32

    I wouldn’t say ‘explosive’ but he clearly has a good feeling for running and a good understanding of himself. Good pick up like the last rb who wore 39.

  • AJP

    Knile Davis has about as poor of runner visions as it gets, so yeah, maybe this kid can get ahead of him.

  • Biggie

    I want to see alot more of Watson and hopefully running behind a better OL group. Watson looks like he could be a real factor in power game. I’m done with Toussaint. Davis was ok, hit and miss last night, some nice runs and some missed opportunities. Want to see him more returning which is main reason he’d be kept if he is.

  • newguy68

    Bell & Connor

  • Michael Conrad

    I want to see more of Watson also. I’m not sold on Toussiant as a runner he just looks a step slow at times.

  • VaDave

    He’s got to get on the field…think he’ll be back this week?

  • VaDave

    I’m not so sure he’s that slow, I wonder if it’s his ability “see ahead” in the play. It’s like he doesn’t have a great feel for the timing of events. That might resolve with more playing time. Just a hunch.

  • walter


  • Rocksolid20

    WOW , Fast Willie . Thanks for the memories .

  • Rocksolid20

    Practice squad and a late season / playoff add after Bell
    has his annual late season injury .

  • Dshoff

    I agree. I wasn’t impressed with Davis’s running. I was LESS impressed with him on the one kick return that I saw. If he isn’t going to be the kick returner, why would we keep him?

  • mokhkw

    I’m going to be interested to see what Connor brings to the table that Watson doesn’t as both are “big backs”. Knile Davis has never impressed me as a runner and I question the value of a KR when most KOs go into the endzone anyway. Toussaint has apparently lost about 20lbs and looks quicker in camp but I didn’t see it on Friday.

    It’s turning into an interesting battle for the backup RB spots.

  • Steeler-Drew

    Watson was clearly better than both Davis and Touissant and it’s only the first game. I’m not sure if he can pass block but if so lets put the best players on the field and the best man wins the job. This may be a classic case of the veterans are supposed to be better and get the benefit of the doubt over an undrafted rookie. Put the best players on the field even if they are 3rd stringers.

  • John Pennington

    Steelers could use a power back like Watson o #3rd and 1 to keep drives going and goal line play to keep teams honest.Conner with the shoulder and hamstring don’t know if he’s going to be ready for the long haul of the season and might lose Watson trying to get him to the practice squad.He should be the 3rd back no question.

  • Michel Smiffi

    I really hope he can take Touissant’s job.
    His (Touissant’s) vision is simply non-existent.

  • SilverSteel

    On his one big run, he did show some burst and quickness. But overall, same ole same ole….

  • Steel Realist PAul

    I don’t see anything ‘wrong’ with Fitz or Davis. They’re NFL-caliber running backs. But nothing stands out or gives me hope that they could come into a game and ‘make something happen’.

    Still need to see what they have in Conner, but it feels to me like most of the concern about backup running backs has to do with what the team can field should Bell go down. In that case, having a third down type back seems like a need to me.

  • Alan Tman

    UDFA This is where Colbert makes his money. AV78, RN45, JH92, plus several backups, and now Terrell Watson, Odom, and Cooper. UDFA’s mean we have a pretty awesome scouting department and a very good system for developing talent.

  • newguy68