I’ve always had a soft spot for players like Fitzgerald Toussaint. Some might not be able to understand it, but it’s called empathy. After his fumble in the AFC Divisional round of the 2015 AFC Playoffs, you felt for Toussaint. He was given an opportunity, and played well under the brightest of lights, until the fumble. The fumble turned into a Broncos touchdown and the end of the season for the Steelers.
Steelers fans don’t forget things like this (just ask Rashard Mendenhall), and I don’t expect them to completely absolve Toussaint either. After all, the fumble was directly linked to the Steelers losing that day. But after a full season spent in a very minimal role, and then starting the 2017 season on the practice squad, Toussaint is going to have his shot at rewriting his story.
Before people think this means something bad will happen to Le’Veon Bell, think again. Toussaint is the backup running back now, despite the addition of Stevan Ridley, and his time will come to make a play. It could come on a big third-down blitz pickup, or occasionally making a key carry when spelling Bell. Either way, he’ll be called on to produce when the team needs it, and I’ve got a gut feeling telling me Toussaint will step up.
If you recall the 2015 season, and mainly the playoffs, you remember Toussaint played beautifully filling in for the injured Bell and DeAngelo Williams. It was his key reception which kept the drive moving vs. the Bengals in the Wild Card round and essentially resulted in the win. It was Toussaint who was slashing the Broncos’ vaunted defense before the fumble. In other words, the man is more than capable.
Like I said earlier, he’ll get his shot at redemption, and I’m pushing all my chips into his corner, expecting him to make a big-time play at a crucial moment.
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As of a month ago, Fitzgerald Toussaint was on the practice squad, as he had been all season. Monday, he's theoretically one play away from becoming the Steelers' featured back.
“You prepare every week as if you're going to carry that load,” Toussaint said. “And that's what I try to do, so I always try to stay ready and stay focused.”
With James Conner (MCL) on injured reserve, Toussaint is the proverbial “next man up” should something happen to workhorse Le'Veon Bell. The Steelers signed Steven Ridley earlier this week. Terrell Watson remains on the practice squad.
In the final, hectic moments of the Steelers' 27-24 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday, offensive coordinator Todd Haley wanted wide receiver Martavis Bryant on the field for the final play.
Just not the penultimate one.
But when Darrius Heyward-Bey was tackled in bounds on the next-to-last play, with the clock winding inside 20 seconds and the Steelers with no more timeouts, it scuttled Haley's plans to have Bryant and his 6-foot-4 frame be involved in a possible third-down pass into the end zone.
Instead, ending the most scrutinized sequence of the season, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hurriedly got off a play with nine seconds left and threw a pass across the middle for Eli Rogers that was deflected in the end zone for an interception, denying a comeback victory.
Whether you want to think this season is already over or not, the Texans do play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football (albeit at 3:30 p.m. CST on Christmas). The thought of James Harrison rushing against anyone on our offensive line is a terrifying idea.
This past offseason, the Steelers followed up on a solid 11-5 2016 season with a perfectly executed draft and free agency plan. I have always admired the way the Steelers draft. Highly motivated, statistical leaders in college and/or athletic specimens with high ceilings are the M.O. for the Steelers’ draft choices. I loved Bud Dupree coming out of the 2015 NFL Draft and was upset when the Texans passed on him, allowing him to fall to the Steelers. Along with this draft, Pittsburgh brought in a ton of free agent talent to sure up the depth of the team. Having seasoned veterans providing depth is a major factor when preparing to make a long run in the playoffs. As you will see, the Steelers did both, and that’s why they’re 11-3 with a shot at a first-round bye.