As good as DeAngelo Williams has been through his nine games with the Steelers has it ever occurred to you to ask why did the Carolina Panthers let him go?
The Panthers felt they no longer could rely on Williams simply because he’d collected some injuries in the last few years. Moving forward with him was a risk in their eyes so off to free agency he went.
Make no mistake about it – Williams has been everything the Steelers could have hoped for and more – but they knew that came with a caveat. If needed long-term could he stay healthy?
First and foremost I don’t think anyone anticipated he would be the Steelers’ number one running back heading into their ninth game of the season. We knew he would have to carry the load in the first two weeks with Le’Veon Bell serving his suspension. But none of us ever dreamed Bell would be lost for the season.
As you’re aware, Williams was outstanding this past Sunday doing everything Bell was known for and then some. Today however came the caveat. Mike Tomlin announced that Williams was dealing with some swelling in his foot and that he would not be practicing on Wednesday.
We can’t be surprised by this development. Williams essentially started the season going 100 miles per hour, throttled it down to around 25 and then Sunday had to ramp it back up to 100. That’s one thing for a running back who is in his 20’s. It’s a another with a guy in his thirties.
Williams total touches in weeks 1 and 2: 46
Williams total touches in weeks 3 thru 8: 27
Williams total touches in week 9: 29
Chris wrote recently that the Steelers need to get both Jordan Todman and newly acquired Isaiah Pead up to speed quickly simply because the Steelers were suddenly in need of a legitimate backup for Williams. That article couldn’t have been more accurate and more timely.
With Ben Roethlisberger far less than 100% at the moment, Williams has to stay healthy if this team is going to reach the postseason. We saw what happened last season when the Steelers entered the playoffs with no one proven behind Bell.
Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin have to be cautious with Williams going forward or else they will find themselves just as they did in January of this year.