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Steelers figuring out how to handle their running backs

Pittsburgh Steelers v New York Giants Getty Images

The Steelers have one of those good problems with their running backs right now.

They’ve had a running back run for more than 100 yards in each of the last three games with Jonathan Dwyer doing the trick twice and Isaac Redman pulling it off in Sunday’s win over the Giants. Both of them were put into the feature back role as a result of injuries and both of them produced, leaving the Steeler with a tough choice to make between them when everybody’s healthy.

Complicating matters even more is the fact that Rashard Mendenhall is still the guy that running backs coach Kirby Wilson considers to be the starter. Mendenhall has missed most of the year with knee and Achilles injuries, but Wilson told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Mendenhall has the “complete package” and would be first on the depth chart when he’s healthy. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has expressed a desire to stick with one back instead of going the committee route, so it would seem Mendenhall, who seems unlikely to play again this week, would get the first chance at that job when he returns to the lineup.

Assuming, of course, the Steelers don’t try a different approach. Redman agrees that the Steelers should ride one back, but also suggested going with two tailback looks that the team practiced during training camp.

“We did a lot of it,” Redman said, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’m surprised we haven’t done more, but everybody’s been banged up. Maybe when we get everybody back and everybody rolling maybe we’ll starting seeing two running backs.”

Dwyer and Redman both appear to be on track to play this week, so perhaps we will see some of those looks on Monday night. Or we’ll just see more of the same for a team that’s averaging 155 yards on the ground in their last three games. Either way, having too many backs and a successful running game is the kind of issue that should sort itself out just fine for the Steelers.

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10 Responses to “Steelers figuring out how to handle their running backs”
  1. baloneyjohn says: Nov 8, 2012 9:10 AM

    Isaac Redman is great. If he can’t start, trade him to another team and get someone good in return.
    He is good in the vein of Micheal Bush, Ben Tate and others.q

  2. giants56 says: Nov 8, 2012 9:20 AM

    The Giants will take him…The man is a beast!

  3. cd_ridge says: Nov 8, 2012 9:31 AM

    With this being the last year of Mendenhall’s contract, the Steelers have some interesting decisions ahead. Not only with Mendenhall, but also with Wallace.

  4. steelerdeathstar says: Nov 8, 2012 9:44 AM

    Can’t really see why the Steelers continue to try and force Mendenhall into the mix at this point. He’s had significant injury issues over the past two seasons, is in the last year of his contract, and is not a popular player in Pittsburgh.
    Stick with a good, productive young tandem of Dwyer and Redman, with a little Rainey here and there in a return man/scatback/changeup role…

  5. johnnybgood19 says: Nov 8, 2012 10:22 AM

    I am not a fan of Mendenhall but he has a gear that Redman and Dwyer do not. If our line can open holes I guess any one can carry the pill. But sometimes the other team will force us to go outside and Mendenhall has shown to have the speed in reserve that allows that to happen….

    just saying….

  6. originalsteelcurtain says: Nov 8, 2012 10:48 AM

    With all of the injuries, having 3 “Feature RB’s” is a good thing.

    If all 5 Steeler RB’s are healthy, one of the “Feature RB’s” lands on the inactive list, because Batch and Rainey earn a hat for Special Teams / 3rd down. When Mendy came back, Dwyer landed on inactive list.

    I expect the Steelers to let Mendenhall walk next year and try to sign Mike Wallace instead.

  7. Steeley McBeam says: Nov 8, 2012 11:02 AM

    “With this being the last year of Mendenhall’s contract, the Steelers have some interesting decisions ahead. Not only with Mendenhall, but also with Wallace.”

    And Dwyer, Redman, Keenan Lewis, McClendon, Sanders, Starks, Foster, Foote, Will Allen, Legursky, David Johnson, and Mundy.

    Not to mention high price guys like Harrison.

    Not saying they should keep all those guys, but each is a FA one way or another. They can’t lose Mendenhall plus Dwyer or Redman or Wallace plus Sanders. Keenan Lewis is playing his way into a nice contract. If Big Snack is hanging them up McClendon is a must sign. I realize Foster and Starks (and Legursky) are considered backups but they are playing too well to let go. Will Allen is needed for Troys annual injury. The only expendable guys I see right now are Mundy and David Johnson now that Will Johnson is playing the way he is.

    Going to be some tough decisions come this offseason and Mendenhall and (I hate to say it) Wallace seem like “nice to haves” at this point.

  8. blackngold4life says: Nov 8, 2012 2:59 PM

    I think once the Steelers trim some fat during the off season..re-due some contracts Wallace will get a deal. Unless he’s just that greedy. I also think we need 3 or even 4 RBs none of them have proven they can stay healthy at any given poor in their careers. If it was up to me the odd man out would be Barron Batch.
    Mendys free agent stock wont be that high because of his injury risk so lets make a deal for less

  9. sudz28 says: Nov 9, 2012 7:21 AM

    I’ve never been sold on Mendenhall, he’s had more than enough time to prove himself and what we’ve seen is all he’s got. He ‘ok’, but he’ll never be the bruising featured back the Steelers really need. Time to make Dwyer or Redman the feature back and move forward from there.

  10. mostlombardisintheleague says: Nov 9, 2012 8:49 AM

    Mendenhall’s ACL and now the Achilles will have him get walking papers after the season. Redman and Dwyer have posted 3 100+ games and Redman had a 100 yd receiving game, does it get any better than that – all without Mendenhall ?
    And we have young guys Batch and Rainey. Sorry Rashard, our stable is full.

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