The Steelers were counting the days until Le'Veon Bell's suspension ended, but now that he's back they're sorting through how best to take advantage of all they have available in what has become a crowded backfield.
"He never wants to come out," offensive coordinator Todd Haley said of Bell. "So it's the head coach (Mike Tomlin), me, Coach Saxon (running backs coach James) and we are all kind of in the same bind at times."
The "bind" involves finding ways to get the most from their All-Pro starter at running back (Bell) and at the same time glean contributions from backup DeAngelo Williams.
Williams carried a combined 41 times for 204 yards and three touchdowns and caught five passes for 20 yards in the Steelers' first two games.
Since Bell's return Williams has carried a combined three times for 7 yards and hasn't caught a pass.
Bell has done what he does upon his return, which is to produce over 100 yards from scrimmage on a game-by-game basis (132 at St. Louis, 150 against Baltimore, including 129 on the ground).
In a perfect world the Steelers would be able to get as much as they possibly can from Bell and more than they've gotten from Williams in a complementary role, but "things just haven't fallen that way," Haley said. "We're definitely excited about having (Williams) here and he's excited to be here. He had one really good opportunity (against the Ravens) and he made a nice run for it (an 8-yard gain).
The Steelers prepare for the week 5 contest against the San Diego Chargers.
"I'd like to see him carrying it more. It is difficult, though, when you have Le'Veon. Do you give it to him? Do you take him off the field? All of those things factor in. We have to have balance and a feel within the game. As we continue to move forward, I'm sure it will work itself out."
The way it's worked out so far is Bell has gotten the lion's share of the workload, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
"I think any back, any (offensive) line, they're going to want reps," Haley said. "The more they see, the better they fit and the more comfortable they get with what they're seeing against the guys they're doing it against.
"He's one of those backs, like most of the good ones, who get stronger the longer they go."
Bell's value in the passing game is also a deterrent to his ever leaving the field.
"I always love Le'Veon as a receiver," Haley said. "I think that's what really makes him unique above and beyond his ability to run the football. He's just a natural guy who can run routes and catch the football.
"He's always a part of what we're trying to do."