PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers bolstered their injury-plagued backfield on Friday, acquiring running back Felix Jones from Philadelphia for linebacker Adrian Robinson.
The deal is pending each player passing a physical.
The 26-year-old Jones gives the Steelers needed depth at running back. Rookie Le’Veon Bell is out with a sprained right foot and is out indefinitely. Isaac Redman is dealing with a nerve injury and return specialist LaRod Stephens-Howling sat out last Monday’s preseason game against Washington with a sprained knee.
Jones was the 22nd overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys but never stayed healthy enough to become a feature back. He has rushed for 2,728 yards and 11 touchdowns in 64 games.
The Eagles brought in Jones to compete for a backup spot behind starter LeSean McCoy. Jones rushed for 45 yards on 12 carries and caught two passes for 12 yards in two preseason games with Philadelphia but failed to make inroads on youngsters Bryce Brown and Chris Polk.
Jones’ versatility gives Pittsburgh options if Stephens-Howling remains limited. The former Arkansas star, considered one of the fastest players in the league when healthy, has worked part-time as a return specialist throughout his career, including a 98-yard kickoff return for a score during his rookie season.
It’s unlikely the Steelers consider Jones a short-term replacement for Bell, who sprained his foot against the Redskins. Bell said Thursday he is optimistic he’ll be able to return quickly and coach Mike Tomlin called early developments in Bell’s rehab encouraging.
Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, who led the Steelers with 623 yards rushing last season, will split time with the first team on Saturday night against Kansas City. Tomlin said there’s a chance Stephens-Howling may play versus the Chiefs. Stephens-Howling is considered the leading candidate to handle kickoffs when the season opens Sept. 8 against Tennessee.
Robinson made the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent last season, appearing in 12 games. He was in the midst of a stellar camp and recovered a fumble for Pittsburgh’s only touchdown in the preseason opener against the New York Giants.