2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Stephens-Howling right at home with Steelers

By CHRIS ADAMSKI - Associated Press
    2013-08-03 17:40

LATROBE, Pa. (AP) - At 5-foot-7, LaRod Stephens-Howling doesn't feel out of place during some of the Pittsburgh Steelers' more size-oriented training camp drills.

The running back has held his own during short-yardage and goal-line exercises and has looked right at home in ``backs-on-backers'' protection drills.

It has helped that playing for the Steelers has made Stephens-Howling feel like he's home - even if he didn't join the team until just this past offseason.

A western Pennsylvania native who played at Pitt, Stephens-Howling is awash in familiarity during his first season with Pittsburgh. His hometown of Johnstown is about 45 minutes from the training camp site at St. Vincent College, and Stephens-Howling shared a practice facility with the Steelers while in college at Pitt. Even his new home stadium, Heinz Field, also is his old home stadium. Pitt and the Steelers share the venue.

``It's a great feeling - a homecoming feeling,'' Stephens-Howling said between workouts Saturday. ``But after all that excitement gets out of the way, we're still at training camp and we're working hard to get a job on the 53. It doesn't matter where you're at, that's it.''

Stephens-Howling's roster spot would appear to be safe, even in a crowded backfield. A fifth-year pro, he was brought in to compete for third-down back and kick returning roles.

Both are tasks he showed a proficiency for over four season (57 career games) with the Arizona Cardinals. A seventh-round pick in 2009, Stephens-Howling has amassed 4,067 yards and three touchdowns in the kick return game over his career in addition to seven touchdowns off plays from scrimmage.

``He's definitely given us some versatility,'' said Isaac Redman, who broke last season's camp as the starting running back. ``He can catch, and he's pretty quick. When you get him out in space he's hard to tackle. You're not going to catch him from behind.''

Speed has always been the hallmark for Stephens-Howling, who led Pitt in rushing his freshman and sophomore seasons but backed up future NFL All-Pro LeSean McCoy late in his college career.

Pure speed is what has made him such an attractive option as a returner. On offense, while lack of size has shied NFL teams away from considering Stephens-Howling as an every-down runner, an ability to catch balls out of the backfield helps make him an ideal third-down back.

Lacking prototypical options at both kick returner and third-down back after last year's 8-8 season, the Steelers signed Stephens-Howling as a free agent in April.

``When I visited the Steelers, they talked about the opportunities they had at third-down back stuff and in return,'' Stephens-Howling said. ``It looked good for me to come here and have the opportunity to compete for those jobs. At the same time it's closer to home; I've been across the country for four years so it's nice to be closer to home.''

Stephens-Howling's father took him to the Steelers' annual training camp night practice at Greater Latrobe High School when he was a kid. While in college, Stephens-Howling remembers frequently watching the Steelers practice from a window in the practice facility Pitt and the Steelers share.

Although he has yet to appear in a regular-season game at Heinz Field, his first preseason game as a professional was there in 2009.

Just four years later, he's the player at his position on the Steelers with the most NFL tenure.

``He's brought a lot of experience and helps out a lot already,'' said Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh's leading rusher last season. ``He's having a great camp so far. He brings a lot of exciting things to the table in the passing game and the running game.

``Don't let his size fool you; he's a tough guy. He doesn't shy away form contact. He's not scared of anybody.''

Stephens-Howling proved that Saturday when he was given the ball during short-yardage and goal-line drills. During one goal-line play he absorbed one of the most vicious hits of the practice, protecting his quarterback and allowing a touchdown pass.

During individual blocking drills earlier this week, coach Mike Tomlin audibly enjoyed how the 185-pound running back was frustrating linebackers who often had six inches or more and at least 50 pounds on Stephens-Howling.

``Blocking's something I work on, and I try to get better everyday,'' Stephens-Howling said. ``I'm definitely not satisfied with my blocking right now, but as the games go on I'm going to get better.''

In order to ensure a role in the backfield on third downs, he knows he'll have to prove he can block as much as he will need to show he can catch. A career-high 17 of Stephens-Howling's 56 career receptions came last season. Coaches have talked about getting him the ball in space to take advantage of his speed.

``He's fast and he can also run the ball up the middle,'' Redman said. ``Mostly, though, he's a good guy - a genuinely good person - and that's what we needed in our running back room. Personality-wise, he clicks right with us.''

The hope is he will on the field, too.

Notes: The Steelers signed veteran OT D'Anthony Batiste on Saturday and placed OT Nik Embernate on the waived/injured list. The 31-year-old Batiste had 10 of his 14 career starts last season for the Cardinals. He has appeared in 37 games over seven NFL seasons for six teams. The 6-4, 314-pound Batiste opened last season as the Cardinals' starting left tackle and adds to tackle group that lacked depth behind projected starters Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert. Embernate is an undrafted guard from San Diego State who sustained a knee injury earlier this week. ... Among the myriad players who sat out Saturday's practice for injury or personal reasons were TE Matt Spaeth, DE Brett Keisel, LB Jarvis Jones, RB Le'Veon Bell, CB Cortez Allen, CB DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB Terry Hawthorne, LB Jason Worilds and LB Lawrence Timmons. ``I'm not going to get into the details on (minor injuries),'' Tomlin said. ``Many of these guys will be working their way back here in the next 24-48 hours.'' ... Tomlin ran another physical practice, saying the abundance of youth on the offensive and defensive lines has necessitated a camp with more live tackling and contact.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Giovani BernardOct 31 11:12a

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) is unlikely to play in Week 9.

Trent RichardsonOct 31 10:32a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is not on the injury report for Week 9, and should be able to play Monday, Nov. 3.

Rashad JenningsOct 31 10:12a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) is aiming to return for the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Ronnie HillmanOct 31 09:12a

Updating previous reports, Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (shoulder) is expected to have his normal workload in Week 9, despite his limited practice repetitions.

DeAngelo HallOct 31 08:52a

Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall (Achilles') tore his Achilles' again at home and had surgery to repair it Thursday, Oct. 30.

Ron JohnsonOct 30 08:22p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (back), DE Michael Bennett (toe), C Stephen Schilling (knee), CB Tharold Simon (knee), CB Byron Maxwell (calf), LB Malcolm Smith (groin), DT Jordan Hill [ More ]

Patrick WillisOct 30 07:52p

San Francisco 49res CB Tramaine Brock (toe) and LB Patrick Willis (toe) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) and CB Chris Culliver (hamstring) practiced in full.

Chris MatthewsOct 30 07:42p

The Seattle Seahawks re-signed WR Chris Matthews and TE Brett Brackett to their practice squad Thursday, Oct. 30.

Scott WellsOct 30 07:42p

St. Louis Rams OG Rodger Saffold (shoulder), CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), DT Aaron Donald (shoulder) and S Cody Davis (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Rodney McLeod [ More ]

Luke JoeckelOct 30 07:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars OT Luke Joeckel (concussion) has recovered nicely from the concussion he suffered in Week 8, and he could play in Week 9 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Joeckel [ More ]

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

Arian FosterOct 30 07:12p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (knee) was limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Johnathan JosephOct 30 07:12p

Houston Texans LBs Brian Cushing (knee), Brooks Reed (groin) and Jeff Tarpinian (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. RB Alfred Blue (ankle), LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee), CB Johnathan [ More ]

David HawthorneOct 30 07:12p

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Justin TuckOct 30 06:42p

Oakland Raiders TE David Ausberry (foot), WR Vincent Brown (hamstring), CB Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring), CB Keith McGill (groin), CB Carlos Rogers (knee) and WR Kenbrell Thompkins (non-injury) did not [ More ]

Anthony CollinsOct 30 06:42p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Anthony Collins (foot) and LB Brandon Magee (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. C Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring) and DE Michael Johnson (hand) were limited.

Brian RobisonOct 30 06:32p

Minnesota Vikings DT Shariff Floyd (ankle, knee), TE Chase Ford (foot), CB Jabari Price (hamstring), CB Josh Robinson (ankle) and DE Brian Robison (glute) were limited in practice Thursday, [ More ]

Louis VasquezOct 30 06:22p

Denver Broncos S Quinton Carter (hamstring) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Lamin Barrow (concussion), TE Virgil Green (calf), LB Steven Johnson (ankle) and OG Louis Vasquez (illness) [ More ]

Ronnie HillmanOct 30 06:22p

Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (shoulder) was limited in practice for the second straight day Thursday, Oct. 30.

Billy WinnOct 30 06:22p

Cleveland Browns WR Rodney Smith (hamstring) and DE Phil Taylor (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DE Desmond Bryant (wrist), S Jim Leonhard (ankle), LB Barkevious Mingo (shoulder), [ More ]

Jordan CameronOct 30 06:12p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Chris JohnsonOct 30 06:12p

New York Jets RB Chris Johnson, who carried the ball just three times for seven yards in Week 8, said he's frustrated with his limited role in the offense. [ More ]

Tom CrabtreeOct 30 06:02p

The New Orleans Saints waived TE Tom Crabtree Thursday, Oct. 30.

Patrick PetersonOct 30 05:42p

Arizona Cardinals S Tony Jefferson (head) and TE Troy Niklas (ankle) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DE Calais Campbell (knee), LB Kenny Demens (knee), S Rashad Johnson [ More ]

Cyrus GrayOct 30 05:22p

Kansas City Chiefs CB Jamell Fleming (hamstring) and LB Josh Martin (hamstring, knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Eric Berry (ankle) and CB Christopher Owens (knee) were [ More ]

Demario DavisOct 30 05:22p

New York Jets CB Darrin Walls (calf, knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OT Oday Aboushi (shoulder), CB Phillip Adams (groin), LB Antwan Barnes (knee), OG Willie Colon [ More ]

Keenan RobinsonOct 30 05:12p

Washington Redskins S Ryan Clark (ankle, shoulder) and OT Trent Williams (knee) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Ryan Kerrigan (wrist), LB Trent Murphy (knee), CB Tracy [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 05:12p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) practiced in full for the second straight day Thursday, Oct. 30.

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 05:02p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) will start against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 9, barring any setbacks this week in practice, according to head coach Jay Gruden. [ More ]

Mike PounceyOct 30 05:02p

Miami Dolphins OG Daryn Colledge (illness, back) LB Chris McCain (foot) and TE Dion Sims (toe) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Nate Garner (neck), LB Koa Misi [ More ]

Andre BranchOct 30 04:42p

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Will Blackmon (finger), DE Andre Branch (groin), DE Chris Clemons (non-injury), LB Geno Hayes (non-injury) and DT Roy Miller (non-injury) didn't practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group