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Steelers notebook: Best RB tandem in NFL?

DeAngelo Williams spent the past eight years in Carolina with Jonathan Stewart next to him and combined for 10,453 yards, so he knows a thing or two about backfield tandems.

Williams, who the Steelers signed as a free agent in the offseason to spell Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell, believes his new team just might have the top running back duo in the league.

“We are one of the best backfields, if not the best backfield, in the National Football League,” Williams said. “For us to think otherwise, it would be a shot at what we do and how we work here. I think that is the goal of all 32 teams in the National Football League. For me to stand here and say anything different would be a lie.”

The Steelers are at least in the conversation when it comes to best duos. Cincinnati’s Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill, Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy and Fred Jackson, and New Orleans’ Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller also would be in the conversation.

• In the past, the final day of mandatory minicamp would consist of ‘Hat Day’ or, at the very least, an abbreviated session. Not this year. For the second consecutive season, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin did not alter the final day of minicamp. “I respect it,” linebacker Arthur Moats said. “If you know Tomlin, he is a hard-nose guy. He wants to make sure his guys compete. It was huge for us because it let us know he is not worried about the offseason right now.”

• Punter Brad Wing wasn’t very happy with his rookie season in which he finished 29th in gross yardage at 43.7, 20th in net average at 38.8 and 28th at punts inside the 20. Wing points toward consistency as his biggest issue. “That is something that I am continually working on to improve,” Wing said. “I wasn’t very happy with the year I had but getting that year under my belt should help.” The Steelers signed first-year punter Jordan Berry, a fellow Australian, to compete with Wing in training camp.

• The upcoming five weeks will be the second longest time that the players will be away from each other. The Steelers won’t re-convene until July 25 when they report to training camp at St. Vincent College. Until then, players will balance taking time off and continuing to stay in shape. “I don’t care how they personally or individually balance it, but they better show up in great shape,” Tomlin said.

• Rookie first-round pick Bud Dupree finished the first spring session of his professional career on Thursday. Although he thought it went well, Dupree knows he has a lot to work on if he wants to contribute this year. “Making sure I know the plays and keeping up with the speed of the game,” Dupree said. “Once I get those down, I’ll be good. I just want to win and work hard.”

• Undrafted rookie offensive lineman Micah Hatchie (Washington) underwent surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon that will keep him sidelined the entire season. The Steelers released Hatchie (6-foot-5, 305) on Wednesday with an injury designation and signed Collin Rahrig.


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