Unfortunately, Pittsburgh Steelers fans didn’t get to see all of the promising talent in the backfield this preseason. Injuries to running backs Rashard Mendenhall and John Clay and fullback David Johnson kept them from participating in the exhibition games.
Mendenhall will return sometime during the early part of the regular season, while Clay was placed on the waived/injured list and Johnson suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Even Isaac Redman, who is slated to start in place of Mendenhall this regular season, has seen limited action in the preseason because of an injured hip.
Redman didn’t play in the preseason finale versus the Carolina Panthers because of an ankle injury. The absence of Redman throughout the preseason gave running back Jonathan Dwyer a chance to prove that he is worthy to be the starter for the Steelers.
Dwyer finished the preseason with 147 rushing yards on 28 carries, with a yards per carry average of 5.3.
The third-year back out of Georgia Tech has been the most productive player in the backfield for Pittsburgh, and just may get his chance to be in the starting lineup when the Steelers face the Denver Broncos on Sunday night of Week 1.
I didn’t forget about rookie Chris Rainey either. However, Rainey will be used more for third-and-long situations and as a returner on special teams.
In addition to Dwyer’s running ability, he has also shown some ability to be a receiver out of the backfield as well.
Since Redman has been sidelined for a significant amount of time, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start Dwyer. It will take a little while for Redman to get his legs under him, and with Dwyer running the ball fairly well right now, it will give time for Redman to get back into the flow of the game. It also won’t put too much strain on Redman’s ankle.
Assuming that all goes well, Pittsburgh could use Dwyer and Redman as a one-two punch in the running game, while Mendenhall gets ready to hit the field.
Follow me on Twitter @ClydeASpeller