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Friday, August 30, 2013
Is Stephens-Howling now on roster bubble?

By Scott Brown

PITTSBURGH -- The more I think about it, as I try to project the Steelers' 53-man roster, the more I wonder if Felix Jones making the team would come at the expense of LaRod Stephens-Howling.

Jones had less than a week to state his case after the Steelers traded for the former first-round pick, and he clearly put himself in the discussion at running back after rushing for 56 yards on 14 carries Thursday night at Carolina.

As Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said after the 25-10 loss to the Panthers, “I thought Felix helped himself. His pedigree showed. His natural run instincts showed.”

Did they show enough to run someone like Stephens-Howling off the team?

I don't think the Steelers keep an extra running back even with Le'Veon Bell out with a mid-foot sprain. They are going to need an extra tight end with Heath Miller likely to come of the PUP list but also take up a roster spot until he is ready to return from a major knee injury.

There is speculation that Jonathan Dwyer could be in trouble if Jones makes the Steelers but consider this: If the Steelers cut Dwyer and Isaac Redman is out with an injury -- he has been hampered by a stinger -- Jones and Stephens-Howling would be your two running backs.

As maddening as Dwyer can be, I think he also may be the Steelers' most talented runner, at least until Bell returns.

Jones and Stephens-Howling, meanwhile, are similar players. Both are smaller backs who can also return kickoffs and can catch the ball out of the backfield.

Why keep both unless the Steelers want another running back until Bell returns? That may be a question the Steelers are pondering with at least some of the cuts coming later today.

I will post my 53-man projected roster early this afternoon.