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Old 01-21-2013, 08:41 PM   #1
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Default Steelers Sunday Spotlight: Running back / Help wanted

Steelers Sunday Spotlight: Running back / Help wanted

First in a weekly series

January 20, 2013
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The once-proud Steelers running game ground to a crawl in 2012, producing its fewest yards since the "Tommy Gun" offense failed so miserably in 2003.

And it's only getting worse.

The Steelers have one halfback under contract for 2013, Baron Batch, whose broken forearm is mending. Rashard Mendenhall is an unrestricted free agent. Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman are restricted free agents. The Steelers announced they would cut Chris Rainey hours after the half-pint halfback was arrested in Florida on charges of domestic battery; that will become official after the Super Bowl.

They have no true feature halfback if they do not sign Mendenhall, who had a terrible 2012 season because of injuries and a mistake in judgment that cost him a one-game suspension and perhaps a chance to return for 2013.

Their priority must be either to re-sign Mendenhall or bring in another feature back, most likely through the draft. They cannot go into their next season without one. Dwyer and Redman are complementary backs and they have value in that. Batch can be a good role player, one similar to that played by Mewelde Moore from 2008-11.

"I can say collectively that group wasn't as good as we anticipated," general manager Kevin Colbert said Wednesday.

If they are serious about improving their running game, they must find a runner to do so. The odds of Mendenhall returning are not good. First, do the coaches and/or his teammates want him back after he failed to show up for their game Dec. 9 against San Diego after he was informed he would be inactive? And does Mendenhall want to return to a team and a coach who did not start him again after he fumbled twice in four carries Nov. 25 at Cleveland?

It is the second time coach Mike Tomlin benched his former first-round draft choice. He did not play him at halfback Sept. 27, 2009 at Cincinnati, because he felt his preparation that week did not warrant it. Mendenhall played only on special teams that game.

Yet through it all, Mendenhall has been a good back when not injured. He ran for 1,108 yards and a 4.6-yard average per carry in 2009 and 1,273 yards and a 3.9-yard average with 13 touchdowns in 2010. He had 928 yards and a 4.1-yard average when his 2011 season ended early in the final game at Cleveland with a torn ACL.

Mendenhall missed the first three games of this past season because of that injury. He started in the fourth game and looked like the old Mendenhall, running for a 13-yard touchdown with a lateral that was later ruled a pass reception and picking up 68 yards on 13 carries.

But early in the next game at Tennessee, his achilles was hurt after his sixth carry, and he would miss the next four games.

Mendenhall managed only 182 yards rushing on 51 carries and scored no touchdowns on the ground. He is young, turning 26 in June. He is 5 feet 10 inches, 225 pounds and has the combination of speed, quickness and enough power to make him a dangerous runner, as he was for several seasons.

Good runners, as the Houston Texans have shown with Arian Foster and the Steelers did with another undrafted player in Willie Parker, can be found anywhere. But the best still go high in the draft.

The Steelers have a choice: Sign Mendenhall or draft one, and scouts have identified no back as a great prospect this year. One or two might be drafted in the first round, but early on, no back is rated a first-round prospect. Alabama's Eddie Lacy is rated as the top back by NFLDraftScout.com, but that site gives him a second-round grade.

Dwyer led the Steelers with 623 yards, their lowest leading rusher since Merrill Hoge topped Chuck Noll's final team in 1991 with 810. Dwyer averaged 4.0 yards a carry and scored twice, as did Redman, who came in second with 410 yards and a 3.7-yard average.

Those two combined for three consecutive individual 100-yard games at midseason. Dwyer ran for 122 at Cincinnati and 107 the following game against Washington. But he did not play in the next game because of a thigh injury, and Redman ran for 147 at the New York Giants. The Steelers won all three games.

They did little on the ground the rest of the way.

There is no question that Dwyer and Redman are big enough, but they are not quick enough to avoid hits or tackles, and their consistency was not good. They also had various injuries throughout the season that curtailed them and a constantly shifting offensive line.

Neither is seen as a back the Steelers want to have as their top runner in 2013.

Batch, who missed his entire rookie season with an ACL injury that occurred in training camp, came back with a limited role in 2012. He had only 25 carries for 49 yards and caught four passes. That role should expand next season, especially with Rainey out of the picture.

The Steelers had plans for Rainey and thought he could develop into a role player as well with his speed. They did not release him because they did not believe in his playing ability, as some might suggest.

Adding a feature back should lift all boats in this backfield because the three remaining halfbacks are all capable complementary backs.

For the first time in years, the Steelers also counted a fullback among their backfield. Will Johnson served primarily as a blocker and an occasional receiver. He caught 15 passes for 137 yards and one touchdown and carried only twice for 7 yards. They believe he will only get better at a position that was new to him in his first year in the NFL.

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/...#ixzz2IfFmOeDP
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers Sunday Spotlight: Running back / Help wanted

Good read. Hope we find an answer soon. That could be an achilles heel next year.
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:57 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers Sunday Spotlight: Running back / Help wanted

yeah, if we don't fix the running game this offense is going to have problems all year
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers Sunday Spotlight: Running back / Help wanted

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Good read. Hope we find an answer soon. That could be an achilles heel next year.
It was that already this past season, just ask Mendy.
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers Sunday Spotlight: Running back / Help wanted

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It was that already this past season, just ask Mendy.
Clever.
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers Sunday Spotlight: Running back / Help wanted

If we can't get Lacy...which I doubt... Steelers will not draft a back until the 4th or 5th round...seems this year there are better defensive players than offensive players available....

Last edited by MeanGee2047; 01-21-2013 at 11:43 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-22-2013, 04:37 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers Sunday Spotlight: Running back / Help wanted

If we have any money left after the cuts and restructuring then we should look for a FA RB. I doubt we will get our hands on a real #1 RB due to picking 17th and RB's from further down in the draft tend not to be immediate starters, so if the money is there then a decent FA RB would be a good sign. I really thought Dwyer had what it takes, but he didn't do very well if the line wasn't completely blowing holes open. It would be nice to get an undrafted FA like Arian Foster, who everybody over looked and we can pick up for a discount (due to not being drafted), but that's a real shot in the dark.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:53 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers Sunday Spotlight: Running back / Help wanted

Yeah, like I've been saying, Draft a running back. Sounds simple... and it is. I don't see mende making a comeback.
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Old 01-24-2013, 07:23 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers Sunday Spotlight: Running back / Help wanted

Why The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Rushing Game Could Be Equally As Bad In 2013

Jan 22nd, 2013 by Matt Shetler



North Carolina Tar Heels running back Giovani Bernard (26) runs past Virginia Cavaliers defensive end Bill Schautz (47).

One of the stories of how disappointing the 2012 season was for the Pittsburgh Steelers was without a doubt their rushing attack that ranked 26th in the NFL in rushing and 28th with a 3.7 yards per carry average.

Many people would like to believe that things will be much better in 2013 and that could be true as it would be difficult to be as bad at running the football as the Steelers were this season.

But it is just as likely that the Steelers could have a repeat performance of their rushing woes in 2013.

That’s simply due to personnel.

Currently the Steelers only have one running back under contract and that’s Baron Batch.

Rashard Mendenhall is an unrestricted free agent, both Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer are restricted free agents and Chris Rainey was released following his arrest in Florida.

Mendenhall likely won’t be re-signed, while it is all but certain that both Dwyer and Redman will be tendered contracts.

But even with Dwyer and Redman in the mix for 2013, the Steelers will still be missing a capable feature back and that’s a problem.

Steelers’ general manager commented last week that the running back situation was unacceptable; leading you to believe that there would be changes upcoming.

“Where we were in the running game last year was indicative of the talent at the position,” said Colbert. “That group of players didn’t produce the way we anticipated they would.”

So how do the Steelers improve at the position?

There’s free agency, but that is all but doubtful. The running back position is very thin and they won’t be shelling out the money for a Reggie Bush or a Steven Jackson type of runner.

That leaves the draft, which is also thin on talent this year.

Give the needs the Steelers have at other positions, it is doubtful that they will be able to nab Giovani Bernard or Eddie Lacy in the first round, as both could be off the board before the Steelers pick at No. 17.

But the Steelers did surprise people four years ago by taking Mendenhall in the first round, so anything is possible.

If they wait until later in the draft to address the need that means reaching on a project, but we have seen time and time again that later round running backs have been successful. But that means getting the right guy.

The rest of my Top 10 backs look like this: Marcus Lattimore, Joseph Randle, Jawan Jamison, Johnathan Franklin, Andre Ellington, Montee Ball, Stepfan Taylor and Kenjon Barner. Some of these guys just aren’t good fits for the Steelers system.

But the Steelers need the right guy to improve on the ground.

Given their salary cap situation parlayed with other holes to fill, getting that type of feature back may not be as easy as people may think it may be.

If they don’t go running back early in the draft, don’t be surprised if the Steelers once again struggle running the football in 2013.

http://cityofchampionssports.com/201...s-bad-in-2013/
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers Sunday Spotlight: Running back / Help wanted

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawaii 5-0 View Post
Why The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Rushing Game Could Be Equally As Bad In 2013

Jan 22nd, 2013 by Matt Shetler



North Carolina Tar Heels running back Giovani Bernard (26) runs past Virginia Cavaliers defensive end Bill Schautz (47).

One of the stories of how disappointing the 2012 season was for the Pittsburgh Steelers was without a doubt their rushing attack that ranked 26th in the NFL in rushing and 28th with a 3.7 yards per carry average.

Many people would like to believe that things will be much better in 2013 and that could be true as it would be difficult to be as bad at running the football as the Steelers were this season.

But it is just as likely that the Steelers could have a repeat performance of their rushing woes in 2013.

That’s simply due to personnel.

Currently the Steelers only have one running back under contract and that’s Baron Batch.

Rashard Mendenhall is an unrestricted free agent, both Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer are restricted free agents and Chris Rainey was released following his arrest in Florida.

Mendenhall likely won’t be re-signed, while it is all but certain that both Dwyer and Redman will be tendered contracts.

But even with Dwyer and Redman in the mix for 2013, the Steelers will still be missing a capable feature back and that’s a problem.

Steelers’ general manager commented last week that the running back situation was unacceptable; leading you to believe that there would be changes upcoming.

“Where we were in the running game last year was indicative of the talent at the position,” said Colbert. “That group of players didn’t produce the way we anticipated they would.”

So how do the Steelers improve at the position?

There’s free agency, but that is all but doubtful. The running back position is very thin and they won’t be shelling out the money for a Reggie Bush or a Steven Jackson type of runner.

That leaves the draft, which is also thin on talent this year.

Give the needs the Steelers have at other positions, it is doubtful that they will be able to nab Giovani Bernard or Eddie Lacy in the first round, as both could be off the board before the Steelers pick at No. 17.

But the Steelers did surprise people four years ago by taking Mendenhall in the first round, so anything is possible.

If they wait until later in the draft to address the need that means reaching on a project, but we have seen time and time again that later round running backs have been successful. But that means getting the right guy.

The rest of my Top 10 backs look like this: Marcus Lattimore, Joseph Randle, Jawan Jamison, Johnathan Franklin, Andre Ellington, Montee Ball, Stepfan Taylor and Kenjon Barner. Some of these guys just aren’t good fits for the Steelers system.

But the Steelers need the right guy to improve on the ground.

Given their salary cap situation parlayed with other holes to fill, getting that type of feature back may not be as easy as people may think it may be.

If they don’t go running back early in the draft, don’t be surprised if the Steelers once again struggle running the football in 2013.

http://cityofchampionssports.com/201...s-bad-in-2013/
The thing wih most of those backs like Bernard, randle, even Franklin, they have the tendencies to bounce it outside a lot. Which is what a lot of people disliked about mendenhall. And the steelers want some one to run north south most of th time with speed. Taylor and ball did this well in college but Taylor has the speed as maybe a little more of Dwyer not beak away speed and ball has some speed but not great I wanna see his 40 time and if its in the 4.4 or very most 4.5 I would be happy with drafting ball.

Also watch th senior bowl this week. Franklin a guy i like has been working on running up the middle and not bouncing so much, also barner is looking to be around 200 at the combine and is also working on going up th middle and showing scouts he has strength to fight of blockers. Also Gillesie from Florida hesbeenrunning north south with speed and only carried the ball like 380 times in college so doesn't have a heavy workload on him

Last edited by WokeUpWithaWoodley; 01-24-2013 at 08:23 PM.
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