Tomlin remains mum about Steelers’ running backs
By F. Dale Lolley
PITTSBURGH – If Mike Tomlin knows who his starter will be at running back when the Steelers travel to New York to face the Giants, then he’s not telling.
As he has time and again, Tomlin is keeping his cards close to his vest.
Though Tomlin said he expects to have Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer back at practice this week, he refused to say which running back will start Sunday for the Steelers (4-3) against New York (6-2).
“I’m not a big hypothetical guy,” said Tomlin. “I’m going to live day to day throughout this week and work with the guys who are healthy in preparation and kind of make the decision as we go.”
Today, that choice would be Redman, who has missed the past two games with an ankle injury.
Tomlin expects Redman to return to full practice, with Mendenhall, who has missed the past two games with a sore Achilles’ tendon, to resume work in position drills.
Dwyer, who has gained 229 yards on 34 carries in the Steelers’ last two games – both victories – is expected to sit out today with a sore quad but return to practice Thursday.
Redman started the Steelers’ first three games with Mendenhall out while recovering from a torn ACL. Redman had limited success, rushing for 72 yards on 32 carries.
Mendenhall returned for an Oct. 7 game against Philadelphia and gained 68 yards on 13 carries before rushing for just six yards on six attempts in a loss at Tennessee and aggravating his Achilles’ tendon.
After averaging only 3.0 yards per carry in their first five games, the Steelers have averaged 5.5 yards per rushing attempt that last two games with Dwyer getting the bulk of the carries.
“We thought he was a talented young guy with upside,” said Tomlin of Dwyer, a sixth round draft pick in 2010. “He was a third-year junior when he came out. He was the ACC Player of the Year. He had some consistent performances and a nice combination of experience and youth, (gaining) 1,300, 1,400 yards or whatever he had his last two years, and he was still 20 years old. We liked the upside. He’s growing and maturing since he’s been here and getting an opportunity to show us what he’s capable of. We expect that to continue.”
While Tomlin wasn’t talking much about his running back situation, the Steelers do expect to have free safety Ryan Clark back sometime this week, provided Clark passes his league mandated concussion tests. Clark suffered a concussion Sunday in the Steelers’ 27-12 victory over Washington.
“We will continue to monitor him throughout the week,” said Tomlin. “There are a battery of tests that he has to go through in order to get clearance, and rightfully so. We will proceed with that protocol (Wednesday).”
Odds and end zones
Safety Troy Polamalu (calf) and right tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) will not play against the Giants. ... Tomlin said linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring) is “very questionable.” ... The Steelers released defensive lineman Corbin Bryant from the practice squad and signed guard John Malecki and fullback/tight end Jamie McCoy.