November 18, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (36) runs after a catch in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agency: Steelers sign RB LaRod Stephens-Howling

With all eyes focused on what the Pittsburgh Steelers would do on the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft, Steelers’ general manager Kevin Colbert found a different way to improve the 2013 team.

According to Jason La Canfora, the Steelers have come to terms on a one-year deal with former Arizona Cardinals running back LaRod Stephens-Howling.

Nov 4, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (36) during warmups prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The Packers defeated the Cardinals 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a return home of sorts for Stephens-Howling, who played collegiately at Pitt from 2005-08.

The four-year pro should help on special teams and as a third down back, but I hope the plan here isn’t to make him the feature back.

Many felt that Colbert would target a running back in the second or third round of the draft and that should likely still be the plan.

Stephens-Howling is coming off of his best season as a runner, gaining 356 yards on 110 carries (3.2 yard per carry) and four touchdowns.

He did start a couple of games last season and gave a strong showing, rushing for over 100 yards twice in 2012.

I like what Stephens-Howling brings to the Steelers but he’s a guy that can’t be overused. He will help the team as a kick returner and can make some plays out of the backfield in the passing game.

But if the plan is to enter the 2013 season with a trio of Stephens-Howling, Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman as their running backs, then that’s a bad plan and I wouldn’t expect the Steelers to improve much on the ground from the team that finished 26th in the NFL in rushing a season ago.

What the Stephens-Howling signing likely does though is close the door on potentially signing free agent running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who was medically cleared to play today.

It will be interesting to see how the Stephens-Howling signing effects the Steelers draft strategy the rest of the way.

Hopefully it doesn’t have too much impact as they still need to target a running back on day two.

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Tags: LaRod Stephens-Howling NFL Free Agency 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers

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