With the injury to DeAngelo Williams yesterday, Fitzgerald Toussaint looks to fill in and use his skills to help the Steelers in Cincinnati if Williams is unable to go.
Thinking of all of the worst case scenarios going into week 17, losing running back DeAngelo Williams was one of them. Unfortunately for the Steelers, that happened as Williams left the game in the second quarter of the Steelers 28-12 win over the Cleveland Browns yesterday.
According to ESPN reporter Adam Scheffter Williams will be undergoing an MRI today to determine his availability for the game on Saturday.
If Williams is unable to play Saturday we will more than likely see second year man Fitzgerald Toussaint get the start at running back against the Bengals. The question on many fan’s minds is what exactly does Toussaint bring to the table?
Well in just three games this season, Toussaint has 18 carries for 42 yards and no touchdowns. And in his rookie year, when he played for the Baltimore Ravens, he only had six carries for 12 yards. That is a very small sample size for the NFL, so lets take a look back at some of his college stats.
The former Michigan running back was a three year starter for the team accumulating 2290 yards over his career becoming one of 21 players in program history to accumulate 2,000 plus yards for his career. He had one 1,000 yard rushing season back in 2011 as a sophomore. A season ending injury in his junior year brought him back as a fifth year senior.
In that fifth year, he was tied for third in his conference in rushing touchdowns with 13 while running for 648 yards on 185 carries. He was also a threat out of the backfield with 18 catches and 203 yards.
Here are some college highlights of Toussaint and from what we see on the video he is a pretty good runner.
Toussaint was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Baltimore Ravens two off-seasons ago, and signed with the Steelers over last off-season. He did not do a great job filling in for Williams yesterday with a line of 12 carries for 24 yards and no touchdowns, but that is to be expected for a guy with very limited NFL experience.
Their were two positives from Toussaint in the game yesterday. First, he caught the two point conversion pass after Markus Wheaton‘s touchdown catch that sealed the game. He also showed off his slick dance moves after the score.
The second positive we saw was his ability to pick up blitzes. Williams was one of only two running backs in the NFL to not allow a pressure all season. When he left the game with the ankle injury, pass protection from the running back position became a major concern.
However, On the scoring drive right before halftime, Toussaint had two key blitz pickups giving Ben the time he needed to make throws down the field.
On the touchdown pass to Antonio Brown just before halftime, Toussaint helps out left guard Ramon Foster and flattens the defensive tackle giving Ben that half second he needed to get the ball to Antonio Brown.
For the Steelers, Toussaint’s ability to pick up the blitz is nothing new. According to Bob Pompeani of KDKA it is something that the Steelers have liked in him for a while.
If Toussaint is able to effectively pick up blitzes throughout the day and can run the ball somewhat effectively, he will be just what the Steelers need going up against the Cincinnati Bengals.
While the Steelers will rely on their passing game for the most part against the Bengals, Toussaint can help open up that pass game by becoming an effective runner.
Steelers players are showing their support for Toussaint and say that he can get the job done if indeed needed to replace DeAngelo Williams.
With a full week of practice ahead for Toussaint, he will have plenty of time to work on both his blocking and running in preparation for Cincinnati on Saturday. Anything can happen on any given day in the playoffs, but in order for this Steelers team to succeed guys like Toussaint will have to step up and help lead this team.
The Steelers have shown success from the sixth seed in the past when they won Super Bowl XL, but in order to make a run at Super Bowl L guys will have to step up and make their mark on this team.