Training camp has been going well so far for the Pittsburgh Steelers, with their class of rookies getting off to a great start. They still have their question marks, namely the offensive line and the depth at cornerback. For the first time since Le’Veon Bell left, the Steelers have a true workhorse running back in rookie Najee Harris. The depth behind Harris is a main storyline from Steelers training camp so far. Veteran Kalen Ballage is a player who could surprise some people by making the team’s final roster.
Kalen Ballage is a Pittsburgh Steelers Final Roster Darkhorse
Kalen Ballage isn’t a veteran by the traditional sense of the word, with just three complete seasons under his belt. However, of the running backs vying for a roster spot, that is tied for the most experience along with Jaylen Samuels. Harris of course is a rookie, Anthony McFarland enters his second year, and Benny Snell will be playing his third season this year. So, although Ballage is still young, he could bring some semblance of a much-needed veteran presence to the running backs room. The talent of course is there; that is no worry. But the Steelers have always been a team that like to have veterans fill out their roster. That could increase Ballage’s chances of making the roster.
Another necessity for a backup running back is the ability to do everything asked of a running back. McFarland is the speed back who will catch some passes and be used in any kind of gadget plays. Snell is likely the guy they will turn to in short yardage situations (along with Harris, of course). Ballage is a poor man’s jack of all trades, master of none type of running back. He brings value in short yardage situations; he also offers more in the passing game than Snell. Perhaps most importantly, Ballage is strong in pass protection. Of the non-rookies in the group, he might offer the most in pass protection. Those skills will only help his chances of making the 53 man roster.
Likely Battling with Samuels
The fourth and final running back spot will almost certainly come down to Ballage and Samuels. The latter is currently dealing with an injury and, according to reports coming out of training camp, Ballage has been making the most of the extra reps. Depending how long Samuels’ injury lasts, the extra exposure that Ballage will get could sway the coaching staff towards him. On top of that, Samuels just hasn’t offered the Steelers much over the past three seasons. He showed some promise as a rookie, but hasn’t produced since then. Samuels is a good pass-catcher, but he doesn’t make anything happen when he has the ball in his hands. His elusiveness is non-existent and while his pass protection isn’t terrible, it really isn’t anything to write home about. In a fourth running back, teams will likely prefer a guy who can contribute on special teams and do anything asked of him when his number is called. There’s a strong argument that Kalen Ballage fills that role better than Samuels.
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