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LaRod Stephens-Howling shows he belongs

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An impressive performance was accentuated by his natural feel for the system. Stephens-Howling was patience but decisive, and made a big impact in just seven carries.

Justin K. Aller

News broke just minutes before the game highly-touted rookie running back Le'Veon Bell would not play in Saturday's preseason opener due to a knee injury that's bothered him throughout the week.

It isn't expected to be a long-term problem, but perhaps it was a good problem to have early in the preseason slate.

Isaac Redman got the start, and took the team's first carry on its first play - a nice five-yard gain off the right side. Things were really moving when LaRod Stephens-Howling entered the game on the team's second series, though.

Just like Stephens-Howling's career, good things came to the team that waited.

The Steelers' outside zone scheme made the short-but-quick Stephens-Howling look like a duck in water. His lateral movement was impressive, but his momentum was always moving forward. He made decisive cuts, but was patient enough to allow his blocks to get set.

Behind The Hyphen, the Steelers cracked off a 13-play, 63 yard drive that resulted in a field goal - and the team's most impressive offensive series of the game. While there weren't many great plays throughout the game (the offense was clearly rustier than the defense, particularly among the second and third teams), Stephens-Howling showed all the hype given to Bell, and speculation surrounding the roster status of Redman and Jonathan Dwyer can take a backseat behind what could end up being an outstanding Steelers free agent acquisition.

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