The questions at running back for the Steelers have swirled around all off-season and through camp. Can Redman last enough to be the featured back? Will Mendenhall return at full strength? Are the Steelers better off with Mendenhall? What backups make the roster? Will Chris Rainey impress enough beyond ‘splash?’ You get the picture.
Jonathan Dwyer may have just cleared up that picture a bit with tonight’s performance against the Carolina Panthers. Averaging 4.8 yards on 16 carries, Dwyer racked up 63 yards with 0 TD’s (would have been nice to have seen one). Now that’s the kind of running the Steelers and Steeler Nation have become accustomed to. And that was only 30 minutes of football. It was a fairly solid performance and one of the better ones out of any of the Steeler running backs so far this preseason.
Ever so sneakily, Jonathan Dwyer has crept up the boards during the preseason. It all started back in Philly when Dwyer had a 33 yard gain against the Eagles. Since then, he’s had two 40+ yard games (when players only play a quarter or two at a time). Totaling 147 yards on 31 carries, Dwyer is the highest yard gainer of the backs. He’s looked the most consistent too after nabbing the rock. He’s also had a few very nice catches – especially the game against the Bills. In that game, he only carried five times for one yard, but had 3 receptions for 48 yards. So if he couldn’t do it with his legs that day, he was making up for it with his hands.
My sense is that Dwyer and Redman will share time over the first few games of the season. Eventually the Steelers will find a groove with someone and stick with them. Only then will they be able to assess Mendenhall’s readiness and if they want to insert him into rotation at all. At only 7 games played last season, it is understandable if coaches and fans are leery of Dwyer. Then again, Redman is coming from a very similar place.
What are your thoughts about Dwyer? Has his performance been impressive enough thus far that he should take the job away from Redman? Or is this just a minor flash in the pan?