Update: The Steelers have officially announced DeAngelo Williams is OUT for Saturday's game.
The Cincinnati Bengals will likely be without Andy Dalton, their starting quarterback this weekend, but the Pittsburgh Steelers will be without their top two running backs when these AFC North rivals face off Saturday night.
DeAngelo Williams is dealing with an ankle injury that's sidelined him all week in practice, and it looks like it will keep him out against Cincinnati.
Williams has been the team's No. 1 back for most of the season due to injuries and a two-game suspension that Le'Veon Bell went through to start the year. Bell appeared in just six games this season, starting in Week 3 after he opened the season with a two-game suspension due to a 2014 DUI arrest; he then tore his MCL in Week 8 when playing the Bengals. That appeared to be a major loss as Bell has been one of, if not the NFL's best running back since last season, but Williams has done a great job picking up right where Bell left off.
After spending the first nine years of his career with the Carolina Panthers, Williams signed with the Steelers this offseason in hopes of reviving his career after an injury-plagued 2014 season (190 games missed) had some wondering if the 32-year-old back had anything left in the tank.
He's surprised nearly everyone, rushing for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns on 200 carries (4.5 yards per carry) to go with 40 catches for 367 yards this season. That came with Williams getting five or less carries six times this season, five of which being when he was the No. 2 back behind Bell and then last week after leaving early with his ankle injury in a win over the Cleveland Browns.
In other words, Williams was as productive as any NFL back when he was getting the bulk of the touches this season, and losing him is a major loss for Pittsburgh. Making it even more of a loss is the next two guys on the Steelers' running back roster are very green.
Fitzgerald Toussaint is next in line, but he's only received 24 carries for 54 yards (2.3 ypc) in his career. He originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan with the Baltimore Ravens last season,
Jordan Todman will be the backup this week, and he actually has the most experience of the two. In five NFL seasons, Todman has 115 rushes for 472 yards (4.1 ypc) and three scores with 40 catches for 314 yards and two more scores. Most of his production came from 2013-14 with the Jacksonville Jaguars as he's been a seldom-used backup everywhere else.
The Bengals should expect to see both of them Saturday night, though Williams being out could lead to the Steelers airing the ball out more. After all, putting the ball in the hands of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant has won Pittsburgh plenty of games over the past two seasons, so they're confident they can do the same Saturday night.