How Does Felix Jones Fit in the Pittsburgh Steelers Backfield?
Pack your bags, Felix Jones. You're headed to Pittsburgh.
Source says Eagles have traded RB Felix Jones to the Steelers. Eagles get back LB Adrian Robinson.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) August 23, 2013
Adrian Robinson is a 23-year-old linebacker who appeared in 12 games—as a special-teamer—for Mike Tomlin's club in 2012. He attended Temple University in Philadelphia and is a native of Harrisburg, Pa.
While far from a blockbuster deal, it shouldn't come as a major surprise with Jones buried behind LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk on the Eagles' running back depth chart and Pittsburgh dealing with a major injury to rookie runner Le'Veon Bell, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports:
Doctors are projecting 6-8 week absence for #Steelers rookie RB Le'Veon Bell with a Lissfranc injury. Hopeful rest will allow him to return— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 21, 2013
While Jones possesses a different skill set than Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, he won't immediately threaten either of those two for playing time in the Steel City.
Here's a look at Jones' underwhelming career stat line:
The former Arkansas Razorback speedster did play in all 16 games a season ago for the Cowboys, but his 3.6 yards-per-carry average certainly isn't encouraging.
He did average 5.9 yards per carry in his second season on a respectable 116 carries, however, nagging injuries have made Jones less dynamic than he was when he entered the league in 2008.
If anything, Jones will be instantly thrown into a battle with third-down back and kick-return specialist LaRod Stephens-Howling, who was acquired by Pittsburgh this offseason.
It's hard to gauge how productive Stephens-Howling can be, because although he mustered a pedestrian 3.4 yards-per-carry average on 154 rushes in 2011 and 2012 combined, he ran behind one of the worst offensive lines in football.
Stephens-Howling's biggest strengths are vision and burst in space, which he's shown when returning kicks.
If Jones can prove to be a better option as a pass-catcher—Jones has 128 career receptions to Stephens-Howling's 56—there's a chance he'll sneak onto the field on third downs and in obvious passing situations while Bell rehabilitates his foot injury.
Redman and Dwyer are power backs who are suited to run between the tackles. If he can stay healthy, Jones can at least give the Steelers backfield an injection of speed to use on the perimeter.
There's not much reason to get excited if you're a Pittsburgh fan, but with unspectacular starting running backs who don't possesses much straight-line speed and an injured rookie, the Steelers made a logical move trading for Jones.
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