Trey Edmunds was activated from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad to add depth at running back in the wake of James Conner’s ankle sprain that will keep him from playing Sunday in Oakland.
Edmunds’ promotion also coincided with the Steelers giving up a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown in their most recent game, and that leak on special teams is where the second-year running back could make his biggest impact this weekend.
Edmunds played primarily on special teams last season when he appeared in all 16 games with the New Orleans Saints.
“I was a four core guy,” Edmunds said, referring to punt and kickoff returns and coverage units. “I learned each one of those special teams. I feel I have some good assets in each one of them. I just have to fine tune each one of them.”
Coach Mike Tomlin indicated that the 6-foot-2, 223-pound Edmunds, the older brother of rookie safety Terrell Edmunds, will get his playing time on those units more than in the backfield. Rookie Jaylen Samuels and veteran Stevan Ridley are the first two options to replace Conner.
“I know he earned his stripes in New Orleans in that capacity, so forget what he’s able to provide us a runner,” Tomlin said. “This is a guy who is going to be uniform that has a resume that is centered around some special teams contributions. And he’ll be given an opportunity there, first and foremost, but I haven’t been displeased with what I’ve seen from him as a runner.”
Edmunds, who also has experience as a kick returner, appeared in one game with the Saints as a running back, and he had nine carries for 48 yards that included a 41-yard touchdown run. The Saints used Edmunds some at fullback, but he’s moved back to his natural tailback position while playing on the Steelers scout teams this season.
“I like to think I have a mix of power and speed, and I try to counteract off each other using both of those,” Edmunds said. “I guess it depends on the situation and where the defender is.”
Edmunds was signed by the Steelers after New Orleans released him in training camp, and he spent the first 13 weeks on the practice squad.
“It’s a blessing,” Edmunds said about being added to the 53-man roster. “I’ve been working hard, and it feels good to get rewarded. I’m pretty much willing to do what the coaches want me to do.”