Steelers roster: Pittsburgh signs a pair of running backs to beef up the backfield

  • Two running backs exit and two enter
  • Could either RB make a case for the RB3 role?

Steelers, John Lovett
Steelers, John Lovett / Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

It was no surprise to see the Pittsburgh Steelers express interest in adding to the running back position following the first slate of unpadded practices. Over the weekend, undrafted rookie fullback, Monte Pottebaum, announced his retirement from the NFL, while running back Alfonzo Graham confirmed he had suffered a torn labrum and would be out for the season.

Omar Khan took action fast. After learning of these departures, the Steelers visited with former USFL running back, ZaQuandre White. However, the team announced on Tuesday that they had signed a pair of running backs, John Lovett and Greg Bell.

To make room for the additional running back, Jason Huntley was released. Both Graham (5'9'', 180 lbs) and Huntley (5'9'', 195 lbs) were undersized running backs. The Steelers seem to be going in a different direction with their new additions.

John Lovett is a former Penn State running back who spent some time with the Carolina Panthers before landing in the XFL. Coming out of college in 2022, Lovett measured in at 5'11 3/8'' and 215 pounds. Lovett played his first four college seasons at Baylor before transferring to Penn State for the 2021 season. Unfortunately, Lovett saw the field for just 8 games and totaled 177 rushing yards in his final year.

Greg Bell is listed at 5'10 3/8'' and 201 pounds. He began his college career back in 2018, but injuries caused him to appear in just 11 games from 2018 to 2020. In his final college season in 2021, Bell rushed for 1,091 yards and 9 touchdowns, per Sports Reference.

Who is the favorite for Steelers RB3 job?

It's been pretty clear all along that Pittsburgh's RB3 job is up for grabs. This role belonged to Benny Snell in 2022. While he offered special teams ability and experience, he was ineffective as a runner. This year, it stands to reason that Anthony McFarland Jr. is the frontrunner for the job at the time being.

However, McFarland's Achilles heel is his lack of ability on special teams coverage units. It won't be impossible for a player like Lovett or Bell to make the final roster. Just last year, Jaylen Warren came out of nowhere to not only make the team but to carve out a fairly significant role.

These newcomers are long shots and they will certainly need to impress the coaching staff (particularly on special teams). However, with a good enough camp and preseason, one of them could stand a chance to stick around. Don't be surprised if the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't finished making roster moves at the running back position though.