It's not often you lose your star running back, and not just one of the best players on the offense, but one of the best on team, and are able to find someone to step in and get the job done.
But that has been the case for the Steelers this year. When running Le'Veon Bell was injured Week 8 against Cincinnati, placed on injured reserve a day later, it was DeAngelo Williams who was asked to step up. And he has done just that.
Williams has been the work horse for the running game, rushing for 170 yards two weeks ago against the Raiders and tallying 534 yards and five touchdowns so far this season.
"He has done a great job," said running backs coach James Saxon. "We are happy we have him. That's what he is here, to be in a position to help his team. He has done a great job."
Williams was signed this offseason after he was released by the Carolina Panthers to be an insurance policy as well as to spell Bell throughout the year, but his job developed into a whole lot more.
"It always helps to have veteran guys around," said Saxon. "The guy is smart. He was here through the whole offseason so he really had a chance to get acclimated with the whole offense. We're just very fortunate to have him."
This is the second straight year that Bell's season has been cut short, placed on injured reserve right before the playoffs last year. It's a tough place to be in, as former running back Willie Parker said the best advice he could give Bell is to just stay positive though it all.
"Just keep his head clear," said Parker, who was in town for the Steelers Super Bowl XL 10-year reunion. "Don't let anybody get in your head. There is going to be a lot of down time and you are going to have a lot of time to think. You are your own worst enemy. You just sit in your house and keep thinking. You have to be strong. Be around people who are positive and upbeat and you will be all right."
Saxon said he isn't worried about Bell's confidence, and knows that despite the injuries, he will come back with the right mindset next season ready to go.
"He understands the process he is going through right now," said Saxon. "Everybody understands it's not an injury free game. You have to prepare for those things. He will come back stronger than he was before. He is very confident. I don't think there will be any issues with him."
While Williams has been just what the Steelers needed, you do lose something when you don't have Bell on the field.
"He is a three dimensional guy," said Saxon. "He did a lot of things for us and solved a lot of problems. It's the situation we are in. We have to move forward with what we have. We feel like we have some good personnel, some good young guys that are growing."
Photos of Running Backs Coach James Saxon.
Among those young players that are growing are backs Jordan Todman and Isaiah Pead.
"Jordan has been here since the first week of the season, so it's long enough for him to understand what his role is," said Saxon. "He is going to have to prepare to play at some point. Everybody that sits in that room has to think the same way.
"Isaiah has been here a couple of weeks now. He is not completely up, but is feeling more confident in what he hears and knows and is getting more confident."