Posted: 9:00 a.m. Thursday, March 14, 2013
When you think of Pitt players in the NFL, the names that frequently come to mind are the 'Big Three' in Larry Fitzgerald, Lesean McCoy, and Darrelle Revis. But if you haven't noticed, former Pitt running back LaRod Stephens-Howling has been not only on a roster, but playing over the past few years. Stephens-Howling has been in Arizona with Fitz, but it seems he'll be moving on to free agency rather than re-signing with the team.
Money, it seems, is a factor. He did get an offer, but it apparently wasn't what he was looking for. But another? SB Nation's Cardinals blog, Revenge of the Birds, had a good point when it was said last month that Bruce Arians' philosophy of using running backs less as receivers could be a reason for Stephens-Howlings' eventual departure. LSH isn't a big back capable of going up the middle as much and a good part of his game is catching passes out of the backfield. More than 20% of his touches have been receptions and he's been targeted nearly 100 times in his career.
He's had a pretty good career for a guy that was largely a backup running back at Pitt. Stephens-Howling has had only modest success as a backup running back for the Cardinals, but he's excelled as a return man on special teams. In his four years, he's returned three kicks for touchdowns.
The fact is that for a small guy who wasn't a star in college, to have carved a niche for himself and found a way to contribute to an NFL team for four years now, he's really had a success story. Will be interesting to see where he ends up, but there's no denying his value as a return man, even though he's done less of it in the past two seasons.