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LaRod Stephens-Howling Could Be the Player the Steelers Thought They Had in Chris Rainey

July 13th, 2013 at 11:39 PM
By Mark Mihalko

Yesterday, Steelers 101 took a look at Reggie Dunn, the diminutive but explosive undrafted rookie free agent, who looks to latch onto the Pittsburgh Steelers by earning his keep on special teams. Today, it is the player he will have to beat out, LaRod Stephens-Howling.

'San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals, September 13, 2009' photo (c) 2009, Michael Wifall - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Stephens-Howling was signed by the Steelers away from the Arizona Cardinals, primarily to take over the role that Chris Rainey filled during the 2012 season. The diminutive back, who spent his college years as a member of the Pitt Panthers, may not have the elite timed speed as Dunn, but can offer something out of the backfield as a third down back.

A Johnstown, Pennsylvania native and former seventh-round selection in the 2009 draft, Stephens–Howling decided to return home for the 2013 season when the Steelers had an opening for a player with his skill set after they released Rainey in January. For his career, he has shown the ability to be exactly what the team is looking for.

Prior to taking on a bigger role in the Cardinals offense, he had two banner years as a return specialist, finishing no lower than seventh in the league in kickoff returns and returning three for touchdowns. Yet, it could be the added dimension out of the backfield that should give him a leg up in the return competition.

In Arizona, he was solid; starting five games in 2012 and leading the team with 356 yards and four touchdowns while adding another 106 yards as a receiver. More importantly, he showed the ability to stay healthy, something Rainey struggled with during his only season with the Steelers. With the Steelers getting younger this offseason as they retool their roster, Stephens-Howling could offer somewhat of a veteran presence to the running back position as well as giving them a boost on special teams.

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Tags: Chris Rainey, Football, LaRod Stephens-Howling, NFL, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers, Reggie Dunn

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