Steelers notebook: Haley: Dwyer needs to prove himself as a starter
By Alan Robinson
Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley suggests fumbles weren’t the only reason Jonathan Dwyer couldn’t secure the starting running back’s job until now. When he carries a couple of plays in a row, Dwyer sometimes signals for a replacement.
“Jonathan’s got to show he can take the bulk of the carries without needing a break or taking a few plays off on the sideline,” Haley said. “That will kind of be what defines Jonathan as his career moves forward. He’s getting a great opportunity. We’ve been excited about some of the things he’s done, and hopefully he goes in and takes this role seriously and won’t let us take him off the field.”
• Just because they make a comfortable living doesn’t mean some Steelers don’t dream of winning the Powerball. Casey Hampton, Shaun Suisham, Drew Butler and Greg Warren kicked in $50 apiece to buy 100 tickets for the $587.5 million Powerball drawing Wednesday. One ticket had four winning numbers — 5, 16, 23, 29 — and was one number away from a $1 million payoff. They had No. 2 instead of 22. They’ll settle for $105. “It was close,” said Butler, the rookie punter. “It is losing, but I am pretty sure it is a cool story because to get those four numbers is like a 1-in-20,000 chance.” And if they had won the big one? “Somebody hit me up on Twitter and said playing for the Steelers was like hitting the lottery,” Butler said. “I would take it and still be playing.”
• Speaking of long odds, the Steelers are 0-6 against the Ravens when Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t start. The Ravens have won 15 consecutive home games and 12 in a row in the AFC North. And the Steelers are expected to start backup quarterback Charlie Batch, who is 0-2 against the Ravens. “They’ve beat us three (straight) times,” safety Ryan Clark said. “They kind of have our number right now, no matter who is playing quarterback.”
• Linebackers coach Keith Butler also has some goals for productive but frequently injured linebacker LaMarr Woodley: Do more conditioning work. Woodley (high ankle sprain) hasn’t practiced this week and isn’t expected to play in Baltimore. “The thing I will tell him is he needs to get his hamstrings in shape,” Butler said. “He worked harder than he ever has to get in shape, but he needs to work on his hamstrings.” Woodley missed one game and most of two others with injuries this season.
• Only one Steelers player, center Maurkice Pouncey, leads his position in AFC Pro Bowl voting. At most positions, the Steelers don’t have anyone close to the lead.
• Left tackle Max Starks (back) returned to practice Thursday after sitting out a day. Receiver Antonio Brown (ankle) and safety Troy Polamalu (calf) were full go for a second day in a row. Left guard Willie Colon (knee), quarterback Byron Leftwich (ribs), right tackle Mike Adams (ankle) and Woodley haven’t practiced this week. Hampton was ill and didn’t practice. Receiver Jerricho Cotchery (ribs) was limited both days.
• No Steelers opponent has gained 300 yards in the past six games; the Ravens are averaging 421.2 yards per game while going 5-0 at home. And while Ray Rice was limited to 40 yards on 20 carries during Baltimore’s 13-10 win at Heinz Field two weeks ago, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau doesn’t expect an efficient Baltimore offense to do much differently this time to create more running room for Rice. “He is tough to hold. Our guys just had a really good game against him,” LeBeau said. “You look at their record. They aren’t going to change what they are doing.”
• Hampton was impressed with Rice’s game-saving fourth-and-29 conversion Sunday in San Diego; he was less than excited about the Chargers’ reaction to a play Hampton can’t envision occurring to the Steelers. “That’s bad defense right there, that’s bad defense,” Hampton said. “There’s no way you can let that happen.”
• Rice said there is no reason the Ravens and Steelers can’t be civil to each other, despite a rivalry that is arguably the NFL’s best. But he can’t see himself going into another team’s locker room after a game, as Clark did to talk to Ed Reed following the Nov. 18 game. “I don’t think I would go into their locker room. I know Ed Reed and Clark have a different relationship. They call each other on the phone,” Rice said. “I just have never been the guy that has been in another team’s locker room. I don’t know what that is like.”