The Pittsburgh Steelers could potentially have a controversy at running back when all three of their backs are healthy as both Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman have made their cases recently to be the Steelers starter.
But Steelers’ running backs coach Kirby Wilson put an end to any potential speculation when he let it be known that he knows who the starter will be and that is Rashard Mendenhall, as soon as he is 100 percent recovered from an Achilles injury.
That is likely still one week away.
In Mendenhall’s absence, both Dwyer and Redman have impressed.
Dwyer had consecutive 100-yard rushing games before missing Sunday’s game against the Giants with a quad injury. In his place Redman rushed for a career-high 147 yards last Sunday.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said earlier this week that the running back that is having the most success during the game will get the ball the most. The first opportunity, according to Wilson, will go to Mendenhall, who had 101 total yards on Oct. 7 against Philadelphia (his only full game this season).
“Rashard is the complete package — power, speed, explosiveness,” Wilson said. “He is the guy who can take a 10-yard run and make people miss and get 20 more. We think Jonathan has things that he is great at. Isaac has some things that he is great at. But Rashard is the complete package. Rashard has proved that he can do it over the long haul.”
Personally I don’t have a problem giving the starting nod to Mendenhall. He has proven that he is capable of being a featured back in the NFL.
Having said that though, I think when all three are healthy that I would give the first shot to Dwyer.
He’s the guy who really got the Steelers’ ground game on track and became the first Pittsburgh back in four years to gain over 100-yards in back-to-back games. He’s also almost a combination of both Mendenhall and Redman as Dwyer can break longer runs to the outside as easily as he can gain the tougher yards between the tackles.
It is possible Tomlin could turn to a running back by committee situation, but even the offensive linemen don’t like that approach as they typically favor one featured back because the blockers can get into a rhythm.
It is always said that you can’t lose your job to injury and that certainly appears to be the case here as when the Steelers line up to take on the Baltimore Ravens in two weeks, I would expect them to do so with Mendenhall as their featured back.