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hawaiiansteel
01-21-2013, 10:45 PM
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/sports/steelers/steelers-sunday-spotlight-running-back-help-wanted-671249/#ixzz2IfFmOeDP

steelz09
01-22-2013, 12:31 PM
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.


Just sign the Saints Ivory and fix the problem. That will save us a draft pick. We need all the early picks we can get. I wouldn't mind if OLB, ILB, WR and S were the 1st 4 picks in this draft (in any order depending on BPA). In the mid-late round picks, I'd add a CB/S, LB, TE, QB in any order.

Sure, Lacy would be nice but I don't see him lasting until our 2nd.

supersteeler
01-22-2013, 01:07 PM
This draft doesn't have too many backs that are feature backs like the article states, and I doubt the Steelers take a back in the first round to get one. Remember sometimes there could be a back that falls through the cracks like Foster, or Fast Willie that wasn't projected as a strong candidate.


Just my opinion but I would draft a superior LG first, this way our interior line would be much better to handle blocking assignments and whoever we draft or the guys left might have better results and success. My thought is an average back or slightly better than average could still be good with a solid o-line to block for him.
If we have a feature back who is really good in college and projected to be a starter in the pro's, there isn't any guarantee he will have the same success without a strong run blocking line.

Same with our defense, a superior NT will make our LB's better, of course it would help with better DE's as well.

My position is when your strong up front on both lines, everything behind it will be better. Its still fact that most games are won on the LOS.

costanza2k1
01-22-2013, 02:02 PM
I don't think the answer entirely lies within what RB we get, it's what OL coach will complement the Haley offense.

supersteeler
01-23-2013, 05:05 PM
Talking about running backs anyone remember when we drafted Walter Abercrombie in the first round?

That was one BIG miss by the Steelers, we could of drafted Marcus Allen who became a Raider after we picked.
As much as we need a back, very few feature backs available on the draft boards.

Abercrombie never had a 1,000 yrd. season, in his best year I believe it was around 8 hundred and some change. As for Marcus, not only was he a great back he was damn good catching the ball as well.


Btw, When we picked up the HOTEL as a FA our run game was better, a solid line fixes more than just the run game.
DECASRTO POUNCEY WARMACK = A STRONG RUSHING ATTACK!

ikestops85
01-23-2013, 06:56 PM
Talking about running backs anyone remember when we drafted Walter Abercrombie in the first round?

That was one BIG miss by the Steelers, we could of drafted Marcus Allen who became a Raider after we picked.
As much as we need a back, very few feature backs available on the draft boards.

Abercrombie never had a 1,000 yrd. season, in his best year I believe it was around 8 hundred and some change. As for Marcus, not only was he a great back he was damn good catching the ball as well.


Btw, When we picked up the HOTEL as a FA our run game was better, a solid line fixes more than just the run game.
DECASRTO POUNCEY WARMACK = A STRONG RUSHING ATTACK!

I remember when he played and thinking what a bust. However, just a few years ago I read "Ruanaidh" by Art Jr and in the book he said Abercrombie hurt his knee during his first year and never recovered. He still thinks the guy could have been a superstar had it not been for the injury.

NW Steeler
01-23-2013, 07:18 PM
He had a helluva playoff game in Denver in that big upset win. That was a crazy year.

hawaiiansteel
01-24-2013, 09:25 PM
Why The Pittsburgh Steelersí Rushing Game Could Be Equally As Bad In 2013

Jan 22nd, 2013 by Matt Shetler

http://cdn.fansided.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/234/files/2013/01/6751128.jpg

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.

Thatís simply due to personnel.

Currently the Steelers only have one running back under contract and thatís 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 wonít 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 thatís a problem.

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

ďWhere we were in the running game last year was indicative of the talent at the position,Ē said Colbert. ďThat group of players didnít produce the way we anticipated they would.Ē

So how do the Steelers improve at the position?

Thereís free agency, but that is all but doubtful. The running back position is very thin and they wonít 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 arenít 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 donít go running back early in the draft, donít be surprised if the Steelers once again struggle running the football in 2013.

http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/01/22/why-the-pittsburgh-steelers-rushing-game-could-be-equally-as-bad-in-2013/

Slapstick
01-25-2013, 09:41 AM
I am still unconvinced that a "feature back" is necessarily a wise investment...

While I think Chris Ivory is good, the fact that he remains restricted, in addition to our cap problems, could make it more difficult to sign him...

I still believe that a healthy offensive line will make the difference, regardless of who is carrying the ball...when healthy, the O-Line was good enough to have both Dwyer and Redman run for more than 100 yards...

Another complementary back...like Felix Jones, for example (if he's still fast!), might be doable...the RBs still need to be used in the proper situations...

flippy
01-25-2013, 12:28 PM
I am still unconvinced that a "feature back" is necessarily a wise investment...

While I think Chris Ivory is good, the fact that he remains restricted, in addition to our cap problems, could make it more difficult to sign him...

I still believe that a healthy offensive line will make the difference, regardless of who is carrying the ball...when healthy, the O-Line was good enough to have both Dwyer and Redman run for more than 100 yards...

Another complementary back...like Felix Jones, for example (if he's still fast!), might be doable...the RBs still need to be used in the proper situations...


I agree. Just give me a back that's committed to staying in shape, hard working, a little athletic, and smart. But don't put a premium on the position unless there's another AP out there. I'd draft AP in a heartbeat, otherwise, go for a FA or late round pickup.

hawaiiansteel
01-25-2013, 08:36 PM
Rashard Mendenhallís future in Pittsburgh doesnít look too bright

Posted by Josh Alper on January 25, 2013

http://nbcprofootballtalk.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/350x-3511-e1351195829120.jpg?w=185

When Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert promised changes to the team in his season-ending press conference, many people pointed to the running back spot as an area likely to look different next season.

Injuries and inconsistency helped the Steelers to their fewest rushing yards since 2003, which was also a year that ended without a playoff spot for Pittsburgh. Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Rashard Mendenhall all had turns in the starting lineup and none of them proved up to the task of holding the job for more than a few games at a time. Mendenhall is a free agent after the season and team president Art Rooney IIís comments to the team website donít paint a picture of a 2013 featuring Mendenhall in the lineup.

ďThe season Rashard had was not what we would have hoped for,Ē Rooney said. ďObviously, we knew he was coming back from an injury so there were some unknowns there. So, without getting into the real specifics with Rashard, itís fair to say that we are going to need a better performance out of the running back position if weíre going to be successful, Whether itís Rashard or Jonathan or Isaac or somebody else, we have to be better at that position, as well as others, but certainly at that position. In this offseason thatís something weíve got to look at and decide how we get better and who we get better with.Ē

The website goes on to say that Mendenhall ďseemed to cross the RubiconĒ by not showing up for the teamís game against the Chargers this season, a decision that earned him a one-game suspension from the team. The teamís going to find someone to be the lead dog in the backfield next season, but it looks like a safe bet that said personís name will not be Mendenhall.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/01/25/rashard-mendenhalls-future-in-pittsburgh-doesnt-look-too-bright/

Chadman
01-26-2013, 12:30 AM
Mike Gillislee...that is all..

Chadman
01-26-2013, 09:10 PM
Mike Gillislee...that is all..

Actually, combine Mike Gillislee with Texan RB Justin Forsett, add Redman & Dwyer, and you cover most needs at RB- speed, power, pass catching ability, pass blocking ability.

If the Steelers are going to do RB by committee, make sure he committee can cover all the needs without overspending in any 1 area.

hawaiiansteel
02-23-2013, 10:59 PM
Marcus Lattimore hopeful injuries won't jeopardize NFL career

NFL.com
Feb. 23, 2013

His last two college seasons were wiped out by devastating knee injuries, but South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore maintained an optimistic tone about his future while speaking to reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Friday.

"It's a blessing to be here," Lattimore said. "I just think about guys who are less fortunate than me, guys who would kill to be in my shoes right now, even with the injury. That's what keeps me going, that's what keeps me motivated."

Dr. James Andrews, Lattimore's orthopedic surgeon, says the running back is making progress in his recovery, but stressed that Lattimore has a lot of work ahead of him.

"He's motivated, working every day, he's way ahead of the game," Andrews told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, "but it remains to be seen whether he can play next year or not.

"The nature of his injury is the most severe knee injury you can really get. It's going to take a special effort (from him to recover)."

Lattimore is considered one of the biggest question marks of the 2013 NFL Draft. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament during his sophomore year at South Carolina before tearing three ligaments in his right knee last year. As a result, his draft-day stock has taken a significant hit.

Still, Lattimore isn't thinking about where he might play in 2013.

"At this point, it really doesn't matter where I get drafted because I'm going to work hard and do what I've been doing my whole career," he said. "And if I get a chance to play this year, I'm going to make the most out of it, and I feel I will."

Lattimore expressed hope that his two knee injuries will not compromise a future NFL career. After seeing the MVP-caliber season Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson pieced together in 2012 coming off of ACL surgery, Lattimore is confident he can play in the NFL.

"There will never be another Adrian Peterson," Lattimore said, "but that definitely gives me a lot of motivation knowing he came back from it, the way he did, he came back better. And that's what I plan on doing -- just coming back better. Seeing him do what he did this year, I think about that all of the time."

http://www.nfl.com/combine/story/0ap1000000143883/article/marcus-lattimore-hopeful-injuries-wont-jeopardize-nfl-career

supersteeler
02-23-2013, 11:25 PM
Le'veon Bell and Warmack could instantly improve our rushing attack, add TE Eifert and we're good to go.