The battle for the starting running back position in Latrobe, Pa., will be one of the most observed battles all summer during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp. Over the offseason, the Steelers made key additions to their stable of running backs in hopes to improve on their disappointing 26th-ranked rushing attack from 2012.
During the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh selected Le’Veon Bell, who led the Big Ten in rushing. In addition to Bell, the Steelers inked a deal with free-agent running back LaRod Stephens-Howling.
The added depth to the backfield has seemed to light a fire under some of Pittsburgh’s running backs who are currently on the roster. Both Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer have dedicated themselves to being better ball carriers for the 2013 season by shedding some pounds. Redman, who weighed 244 pounds last season, entered training camp 11 pounds lighter. Dwyer has made an even more dramatic decline in weight, dropping at least 25 pounds.
The two veteran backs hope that trimming the fat will help them in the competition during camp and the preseason. It’s evident that Stephens-Howling will be implemented as the team’s third-down back, and even though Bell is currently listed as the fourth-string running back, he’s already seen significant time with the first-team offense during the early part of training camp.
As of right now, Redman and Dwyer are the first- and second-string running backs, respectively, with Baron Batch filling the third running back slot on the depth chart. Seeing how serious Redman and Dwyer are about holding onto their roster spot, chances are that Batch will be a casualty of this backfield war.
Will the more fit and svelte Redman and Dwyer have what it takes to beat out Bell for the No. 1 spot? Only time will tell. However, regardless of the outcome, Pittsburgh’s running game has the potential to improve from last season, and it could be one of the best in 2013.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+