Kalen Ballage

Pittsburgh Steelers
Running Back #33
Pittsburgh Steelers
Running Back #33
Photo: Icon Sportswire

Kalen Ballage News

Minimal work in finale

Ballage rushed once for zero yards in Sunday's 16-13 OT win over the Ravens.

Analysis: Although Najee Harris sustained an elbow injury on the team's first drive Sunday, Ballage was on the field for just seven offensive snaps. Instead, most of the backfield duties went to Benny Snell before Harris returned to the field. Ballage appeared in every game during the regular season and rushed 12 times for 36 yards while securing two of seven targets for eight yards. He's slated to become an unrestricted free agent during the offseason after signing a one-year deal with the Steelers in March.

Jan 10, 2022 7:15 AM EST


Racks up 21 rushing yards

Ballage recorded three carries for 21 yards while securing one of two targets for six yards in Sunday's 41-10 loss to the Bengals.

Analysis: Ballage was on the field for just eight offensive snaps in Sunday's matchup, but he had a season-high 27 yards from scrimmage in the blowout loss. The 25-year-old has been on the field for double-digit offensive snaps just once this season and continues to have minimal fantasy value as long as Najee Harris remains healthy.

Nov 29, 2021 6:49 AM EST



Logs three yards in Week 11

Ballage recorded one carry for three yards while failing to haul in his lone target in Sunday's 41-37 loss to the Chargers.

Analysis: Sunday's performance marked just the second time that Ballage logged positive yardage on the ground across the first 10 games of the season. During that time, he's recorded eight carries for 15 yards while securing one of five targets for two yards.

Nov 22, 2021 8:38 AM EST


Totals two yards against Chicago

Ballage secured his lone target for two yards in Monday's 29-27 win over the Bears.

Analysis: Ballage's seven offensive snaps Monday ranked second among the Steelers' running backs, but he failed to have a significant impact. None of Pittsburgh's backup running backs have managed to carve out meaningful production behind lead back Najee Harris to begin the year.

Nov 9, 2021 8:13 AM EST


Minimal role against Browns

Ballage rushed once for minus-3 yards in Sunday's 15-10 win over Cleveland.

Analysis: Ballage played a season-high 11 snaps in Week 6, but he was on the field for just three offensive snaps against the Browns. The 25-year-old has rushed just seven times for 12 yards across his first seven appearances with the Steelers.

Nov 1, 2021 8:03 AM EST



Limited playing time in OT win

Ballage recorded two carries for 15 yards in Sunday's 23-20 win over the Seahawks.

Analysis: Although rookie Najee Harris played 84 percent of the Steelers' offensive snaps Sunday, Ballage was on the field for 16 percent of the snaps and was the only other running back to play on offense. The 2018 fourth-rounder was efficient with his two touches, but he's still had fairly minimal work to begin the season.

Oct 18, 2021 7:17 AM EST


Four carries in Week 5

Ballage rushed four times for zero yards while failing to secure his lone target in Sunday's 27-19 win over Denver.

Analysis: Ballage saw his first taste of offensive work last week, and he played 10 offensive snaps in Week 5 since Najee Harris dealt with cramping. Assuming Harris is fully healthy for Sunday's Week 6 matchup, Ballage should continue to be an insignificant fantasy contributor.

Oct 11, 2021 7:24 AM EST


Plays four offensive snaps

Ballage didn't record any touches in Sunday's 27-17 loss to the Packers.

Analysis: Ballage didn't appear on offense in any of the first three games of the season, and he continued to see minimal playing time in Week 4. The 25-year-old was on the field for just four offensive snaps against Green Bay and has yet to record any touches in 2021 while working behind Najee Harris, who has played a three-down role early in his career.

Oct 4, 2021 7:40 AM EST


No offensive snaps

Ballage logged four snaps on special teams during Sunday's 23-16 win over the Bills.

Analysis: Ballage didn't see a single snap on offense. Rookie running back Najee Harris carried the load Sunday, playing on all 58 of Pittsburgh's offensive snaps. Ballage is currently third on the depth chart, and Harris' three-down skill set will make it hard for the veteran to see much playing time on offense. The Steelers will host the Raiders in Week 2.

Sep 15, 2021 4:54 AM EST


Pair of carries

Ballage carried the ball two times for eight yards in Friday's preseason game against Carolina.

Analysis: Ballage worked in a third-down role in the team's first offensive drive, though he was unable to convert his lone target into a catch. He drew one carry on the following drive and was held off the stat sheet thereafter until the fourth quarter. Ballage battled a lower body issue throughout the middle of training camp but has been healthier than Benny Snell overall. That could clear a path for Ballage to make the roster, though the Steelers' depth roles at the position remain unclear.

Aug 27, 2021 8:52 PM EST


Productive in exhibition win

Ballage recorded seven carries for 30 yards and hauled in both of his targets for 17 yards in Saturday's 26-20 preseason win over the Lions.

Analysis: Ballage played just 15 snaps in Saturday's win, but he saw plenty of work after he was held out of the Steelers' second preseason game due to a lower-body injury. The 25-year-old led the team's running backs in rushing yards, and his 11-yard rush in the third quarter was Pittsburgh's longest of the game. Ballage has made a strong case for a 53-man roster spot ahead of the regular season as he competes for a backup role behind starter Najee Harris.

Aug 22, 2021 10:41 AM EST


Back at practice

Ballage (lower body) returned to practice Tuesday, Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports.com reports.

Analysis: Ballage sustained a lower-body injury in the Hall of Fame Game against the Cowboys and didn't take the field in Thursday's exhibition game against Philadelphia. However, he took carries ahead of Jaylen Samuels in Tuesday's practice and will likely suit up for Saturday's preseason matchup against the Lions.

Aug 18, 2021 7:34 AM EST


Injury considered minor

Ballage (lower body) isn't believed to be dealing with a significant injury, Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Analysis: Ballage has missed back-to-back practices after he left Thursday's Hall of Fame Game against the Cowboys with a lower-body injury. While the exact nature of the issue isn't yet known, coach Mike Tomlin said Sunday that the running back likely isn't facing a long-term absence. The 25-year-old's status for Thursday's preseason game against the Eagles will likely be determined based on whether he can return to practice in the coming days, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him limited or held out against Philadelphia as a precautionary measure.

Aug 8, 2021 7:23 PM EST


Dealing with lower body injury

Ballage suffered a lower-body injury in Thursday's Hall of Fame Game against Dallas, Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com reports.

Analysis: It's not immediately clear how Ballage suffered the injury, or how serious the knock may be. Prior to the issue, he received five carries and gained 19 yards -- highlighted by a five-yard touchdown. Ballage is battling to make Pittsburgh's roster, competing for a depth role with Jaylen Samuels and Tony Brooks-James and any missed time would hurt his chances of making the team.

Aug 5, 2021 8:49 PM EST


Gets more competition for touches

Ballage will have to compete for touches this year after the Steelers selected Najee Harris with the 24th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: Ballage signed a one-year contract with the Steelers at the end of March, and Pittsburgh strengthened its running game by selecting the first running back in the draft. Coach Mike Tomlin called Harris a "three-down back" after the team selected him Thursday, signaling that Ballage should have to compete with Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland for touches in a secondary role during his first year with the Steelers. Ballage averaged 3.3 yards on 91 carries with the Chargers and Jets last season and could have to compete for a spot on the Week 1 roster during training camp and the preseason.

Apr 30, 2021 11:05 AM EST


Headed to Pittsburgh

Ballage is signing a one-year contract with the Steelers.

Analysis: Few teams, if any, have a weaker depth chart at running back, though Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports.com expects the Steelers to find their starter in the 2021 NFL Draft. Ballage likely will need to compete for a roster spot, as he's averaged only 3.1 yards on 201 carries and 5.5 yards on 52 receptions in the NFL. He'll be up against Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland, Jaylen Samuels and Trey Edmunds, plus whatever rookie(s) the Steelers add.

Mar 30, 2021 8:54 AM EST


Emerges as capable backup

Ballage carried the ball 13 times for 36 yards and a touchdown in the win Sunday over the Chiefs. He finished his season 402 total yards and three touchdowns across two different teams.

Analysis: Ballage put together an uneventful three-game stint with the Jets before joining the Chargers midway through the season. From a statistical standpoint, the ensuing eight games were easily the best juncture of Ballage's three-year career to date as the 25-year-old touched the ball 108 times including four different games with at least 13-plus carries mainly in the absence of Austin Ekeler (quad). While he piled together career-highs in rushing yards (290) and receiving yards (99), he was hardly efficient with his opportunities, finishing the season with a paltry 3.3 yards-per-carry average. It'll be interesting to see how the Chargers manage their depth chart at running back moving forward with head coach Anthony Lynn now out of the picture. The offense had been almost dependent on a bruising running back capable of running between the tackles as a fulcrum of sorts to work alongside Ekeler during Lynn's tenure, but a more imaginative coach could choose to make Ekeler the truly dominant option out of the backfield thus forcing the backups to remain largely out of the picture. While Ballage's counting stats likely will make him a front runner for whatever the backup RB job looks like in 2021, Justin Jackson, 2020 fourth-round pick Joshua Kelley and possibly more names could all contend for that role entering next season.

Jan 7, 2021 8:44 AM EST


Minimal factor in win

Ballage carried the ball four times for 14 yards and also caught two passes for 12 yards in Sunday's 19-16 win over the Broncos on Sunday.

Analysis: Ballage saw just 16 offensive snaps, the lowest total during his brief Chargers tenure to date, but he still managed to tally 26 total yards, a three-week high. The 25-year-old will have one more week to make his case as the team's optimal backup option for 2021 behind stalwart Austin Ekeler.

Dec 29, 2020 2:03 PM EST


Scores TD but not much else

Ballage carried the ball eight times for 11 yards and a touchdown in Thursday's 30-27 win over the Raiders.

Analysis: The Chargers entire rushing attack was largely inefficient, but Ballage's 1.4 yards-per-carry was obviously the worst. The castaway running back has seen around 20-30 offensive snaps each game since the return of Austin Ekeler, meaning his fantasy value almost strictly is dependent on the health status of Ekeler.

Dec 18, 2020 8:29 AM EST


Relegated to afterthought

Ballage carried the ball seven times for 14 yards and caught just one of his two targets for six yards in Sunday's 20-17 win over the Falcons.

Analysis: It'll be important to monitor the status of Austin Ekeler (quad) who was estimated as non-participant in Monday's practice leading into the Thursday night matchup against the Raiders. With Ekeler healthy, Ballage has totaled just 14 carries and six targets over the last two games after emerging as the team's workhorse in previous weeks.

Dec 15, 2020 10:17 AM EST


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