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In terms of DeAngelo Williams, the Steelers would be wise to live in their fears

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has publicly stated he isn't worried about the workload placed upon 32-year-old DeAngelo Williams. Maybe he should re-think his plan...

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
I'm the kind of person that hangs my hat on the fact that I learn from past mistakes. I have discontinued the practice of asking a woman when she's due just in case she's made too many trips to the buffet and let her gym membership lapse back in the Clinton administration. I don't blurt out "Challenge Accepted" anymore when I'm reminded that I'm no longer in my twenties and can't do the things that I used to, like the time I tried to literally stick my own foot in my mouth because my young daughter told me I couldn't, and try the rope swing at my kids summer camp on Parents Day (I'm still not right from that concussion). And I never again will teach my children the "pull-my-finger" trick, that parent-teacher conference was a tad bit uncomfortable.

I've learned from such errors in judgement that will haunt me relentlessly until the end of days and I implore Mike Tomlin to do the same. Please, not only, allow Deangelo Williams less carries in "garbage time" and throughout a game, but allow the young talent behind him the opportunity to gain valuable experience and playing time through actual in-game action.

Maybe it's time for the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers to start possibly living (just a smidge) in their own fears. Last year when Le'Veon Bell succumbed to a knee injury in the regular season finale against Cincinnati, Steeler Nation learned to empathize with Kermit the Frog. They found out, all to well, that "it's not easy being green" in the running game. When Bell went down against the Bengals, the rushers remaining on the roster (Dri Archer and Josh Harris) had a combined thirteen career-carries. After LeGarrette Blount left in a huff due to virtually no playing time after the Tennessee game, Bell carried the ball 87 times in the following four games and eight times in the fateful game in which his year ended. Harris and Archer had five carries combined.

With Bell gone again for the remainder of the 2015 campaign, the Steelers playoff fate relies very heavily on the healthy feet and legs of DeAngelo Williams. The former Carolina Panther is having his best year since 2008 when he had a career-high in carries at 273 for 1,515 yards. At the advanced age (for a running back) of 32, Williams has 141 carries and is on-pace for roughly 221 and to gain 1,064 yards. Those totals would be second and third-best respectively in his successful career. But DeAngelo is not a stat hog or a glory hound. He has gone on record to say that he came to Pittsburgh to win a Super Bowl. On offense, the talent is there to realize that goal. But at this point in the season, the depth is not and it has barely been developed.

In no way do I suggest that the Steelers demote DeAngelo and trust their playoff hopes to the legs of Fitzgerald Toussaint or Jordan Todman. However those players need to have some seasoning in case something happens to an incumbent that has a history of lost time due to injury. Toussaint and Todman could benefit from a series or two of action without sacrificing the game plan or winning. When Bell went down last year, the Steelers running game was completely neutralized in the playoffs because Archer and Harris had virtually no in-game action. Plus, Ben Tate had less than a couple of days to get acclimated to the system. Everything fell to the passing game and the Ravens had a much easier time on defense when little attention needed to be paid to the running game.

In the game against the Colts last Sunday, the running heroics of Williams helped open up the passing game, extend drives and was essential in capturing the win. But No. 34 (and other valuable starters) remained in the game when it was well in hand. I'm all for players having great statistics, but not at the expense of the bigger picture. I was cringing every time DeAngelo carried the ball late in an already decided game. It's true that he had three first downs late in the game, but it wasn't like the passing game was shut down for the night.

This is not the first time in the Tomlin Era that a running back was rode until he broke. Willie Parker led the league in carries in 2007 when he broke his leg in the final stretch and was lost for the playoffs. The broken leg came in a late season game against St. Louis that the Steelers dominated. The moment when Parker's season ended, he had 321 carries to 71 for Najeh Davenport, a veteran player that couldn't carry the Steelers in the playoffs. Parker's career ended two years later at the age of 29.

The Steelers acquired DeAngelo Williams to cover Bell's suspension, but mostly as an insurance policy in case anything were to occur to Bell. It did. And now a supplementary plan is necessary in case something happens to D-Will.

Sometimes living in your own fears is not a bad idea, if it means not getting caught with your game pants down.