With training camp right around the corner, the dust settled on the distraction and drama that Le'Veon Bell created last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in a fortunate situation at the running back position. They have players with a multitude of potential at the position that they could send onto the field and get good production from, including their 'jack of all trades', Jaylen Samuels.
Samuels is no stranger to playing a role that includes him carrying the ball out of the backfield or being utilized as a receiver. At NC State, one of the schools where Steelers running backs coach Eddie Faulkner coached previously, Samuels had an outstanding senior year with the Wolfpack. With his 407 yards rushing (78 attempts) and 12 touchdowns, Samuels added 75 receptions for 593 yards and four touchdowns.
With the Steelers, in 2018, Samuels just started to get his wheels turning as a pro and put up respectable numbers starting in just three games (nine games that he was utilized on the field). He put together 256 rushing yards on 56 attempts (4.57 yards per attempt). Additionally, Samuels provided Ben Roethlisberger with an outlet and logged 199 yards receiving (26 catches in 29 targets) for three touchdowns. Samuels was also asked to come in and provide extra blocking help to keep Roethlisberger clean and the offense running effectively.
Arguably, his best game in 2018 was against the Patriots in Week 15. Samuels did it all. Run, catch, block. He ran for 142 yards on 19 carries (7.47 yards per attempt) and had two catches for 15 yards apiece to help Pittsburgh beat New England, 17-10.
Never had 19 carries in a game. Not even 100 rushing yards. Not in the NFL, college or high school.
— NFL (@NFL) December 20, 2018
All of that was just a glimpse at how good Samuels could be if he earned a regular role in the Steelers offense in 2019.
During OTAs recently, Samuels reportedly confirmed that he had no issues being utilized in a multi-faceted role. "I like it like that," Samuels was reported to have told Dejan Kovacevic. "Get me on the field... I'll get the job done."
"If you look around the league a lot of good teams have multiple running backs," Conner told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. "That is how you win games, with depth."
With Samuels' dynamic playmaking ability, we could very well see a three running back system at times from the Steelers with Samuels split out as a receiver and newcomer Benny Snell paired with James Conner in the backfield. This isn't likely to happen every down or even every game but for once the Steelers have several options at running back. That doesn't include anyone who might really stand out at training camp. If Samuels continues to show he can be that "swiss army knife" type of player, as we all know he is capable of being, it's hard not to see the Steelers offense being very successful during the 2019 NFL season.