The Pittsburgh Steelers enter their first official season without running back Le'Veon Bell on the roster this week. In the process of Bell's holdout, James Conner emerged in a huge way, alleviating plenty of concerns.
But how will the Steelers utilize their running game when their opponents are no longer expecting Bell?
During an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger confirmed what teammate Jaylen Samuels told ESPN a month prior: the team will be using more two-running back sets in the offense.
"Jaylen, I think we all saw what we can do last year with him," Roethlisberger said. "He's a little bit more of a receiving running back. We can actually flank him out. He's got great hands. We can do some kind of interesting things with him in the two-back situation."
Once Conner went down with an injury last season, Samuels thrived as well, specifically on passing downs. In 14 games, Samuels caught 26 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns.
Lest we forget that the Steelers selected Kentucky running back Benny Snell in the fourth round of this year's NFL Draft. Snell is a bruiser back who rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons with the Wildcats. But Snell really caught the eye of Roethlisberger during training camp, who was impressed with the rookie's ability to catch bad passes.
Why is Roethlisberger stressing the importance of two-back sets in Pittsburgh? Well, there's no more Antonio Brown, who consistently recorded 100 receptions for the past six seasons with the Steelers. Now, the receiving corps will be led by JuJu Smith-Schuster, followed by Donte Moncrief and James Washington.
With the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns emerging as threats for the AFC North division crown, the Pittsburgh Steelers are prepared to do whatever it takes to keep afloat.