Tag Archives: backs

Defensive backs honored to meet Butler

Jack Butler will be getting a lot of love from Steelers fans when he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 4, but on Tuesday it was Steelers players who were showing the former d…

Source: Pittsburgh Steelers : News

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Dwyer, Batch and Rainey: Three Steelers Running Backs. Three Late-Round “Steals.” Only Room for One in the Hearts of Steelers Fans?

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 09:  Jonathan Dwyer #27 of the Pittsburgh Steelers evades a tackle by Cortland Finnegan #31 of the Tennessee Titans during the game on October 9, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Steelers 2012 Draft drew praise from experts and fans alike for the team’s ability to miraculously land Stanford guard David DeCastro with the 24th pick in the first round. Pittsburgh also snagged Ohio State tackle Mike Adams in the 2nd round. There was a bit of a concern about Adams because of “character issues,” but most fans were still happy with the pick because, well, he’s just so darn talented.

However, the Steelers may have saved their best for the 5th round when they selected Florida tailback Chris Rainey. Rainey, a Combine sensation in February, was considered by many to be one of the steals of the 2012 Draft.

This is nothing new for the Steelers in recent years. If there’s a running back out there still hanging around late in the draft, the Steelers have had the presence of mind to steal him away from everyone else.

Just last year, the Steelers selected Texas Tech running back Baron Batch in the 7th round. He was obviously a real steal that late in the draft, and with his ability to write an awesome blog, Steelers fans couldn’t wait to witness what this kid had to offer.

Of course, Rainey and Batch aren’t pioneers in the “running back who was a late-round steal” department. Nope, that distinction–at least in recent years–goes to Jonathan Dwyer. Dwyer, a third year back out of Georgia Tech, was stealing drafts back when Rainey and Batch were both still knee-high to a tackling dummy.

It’s nice that the Steelers have stolen three really talented running backs in the last three drafts, but the odds of all three becoming productive members of the team are pretty slim. I mean, let’s face it. Isaac Redman already casts a very huge shadow in the Steelers offensive backfield. You talk about a steal. The guy is an undrafted free agent out of Bowie State who is big, fast (but not so fast that he turns Steelers fans off), and did this to a number of Ravens a couple of years ago.

Redman’s popularity in Steeler Nation is almost unrivaled–even by guys who have more than three career touchdowns– and there won’t be room in the backfield for all three of these late round steals. But if one of these guys can endear himself to Steelers fans and become a poor man’s Redman, his chances of making the team will increase dramatically.

Join me as I offer each late round steal some advice to help increase his chances:

Jonathan Dwyer

You may be the original “running back who was a late round steal,” but this is a “what have you done for me lately” business, and what have you done? Forget about being the steal of the entire 2010 draft, you weren’t even the steal of the Steelers 2010 draft. Heck, you weren’t even the team’s best 6th round draft choice that year. That distinction belongs to Antonio Brown. And in case you haven’t noticed, Brown is the Redman of the Steelers wide receivers. Sure, you’re the only one of the three who has even played in the NFL, but at 229 pounds, you’re dangerously close to Redman’s 230. And since he fills the team role as “running back who doesn’t dance around like that Mendenhall,” there isn’t a need for another. The last thing you want to do is threaten Sir Isaac’s spot on the roster. That’s no way to endear yourself to the fans. Yes, you did have that 76 yard run in the Titans game last year, but you didn’t score, and don’t think that Steelers fans will just let that go. Sure, Redman got caught at the goal line in the playoff game in Denver last year, but when he gets caught from behind, it shows character. When you get caught from behind, it shows that you’re slow and fat. Maybe, like Batch, some non-football type of talent will help endear you to the fans. Do you blog? Maybe you’re a closet stand-up comedian. If you can do a mean Mike Tomlin impression, now’s the time to let that puppy out of the bag.

Baron Batch

You quickly became everyone’s darling last year, and for good reason. The things that you had to overcome just to make it to Texas Tech were truly amazing. And as I mentioned earlier, you’re an awesome blogger, and we at BTSC can certainly appreciate that. Steelers fans quickly fell in love with your inspirational stories and your charismatic personality. And once training camp got underway, and you showed your potential, we couldn’t wait to see what you had in store for us once the real games started. Unfortunately, you blew out your knee near the end of camp, and you were forced to miss the entire 2011 season. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, at least in terms of your legend. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and your absence from the 2011 roster only made Steelers fans want to see you in action even more. I’d say you’re the odds on favorite to truly win our hearts. However, you must be careful with this whole blogging phenomenon. The injury and your continued excellent blogging worked in your favor last year, but another injury could lead to fans calling talk shows and asking, “Don’t you think the constant blogging is causing Batch’s muscles to atrophy? Do you think that’s why he’s so injury prone? Isn’t there a clause in his contract that states that he must wear a helmet when he blogs?” Also, every blogger must beware of the potential for carpel tunnel syndrome. If it can pose a danger to your average secretary, imagine what it can do to a running back who specializes in catching passes out of the backfield.

Chris Rainey

You, sir, are the newest “running back who was a late round steal,” and much like the youngest sibling who gets away with more, this could work to your advantage. You’ll obviously have at least one year to prove you were worth the 5th round pick that the Steelers spent on you. The only problem is you’re extremely fast. You might be thinking that will work to your advantage. But you’re not from around here. You don’t know Steelers fans. In Steeler Country, a back who runs a 4.3 40 is someone who should be a receiver, especially if he is only 5’8 and 180 pounds. Even if you break off a 90 yard run, unless you run over a few defenders, it probably won’t impress us very much. Just ask Willie Parker. From what I’ve heard and read, you are pretty funny and quick-witted. This could win you some fans, but it could also work against you. When things are going well, you’re quick-witted and a good sound-byte that reporters will naturally gravitate to. However, when a reporter asks you for the 1000th time if you’d benefit from a move to receiver, you could quickly become “bitter and sarcastic” if you answer the question with any sort of venom. Also, I’d get rid of your Twitter account if I were you. Trust me. No amount of speed will be able to out-run a controversial Tweet.

Well, there you have it. Which one of these guys has what it takes to win us over and increase his chances of making the team? Only time will tell.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Post Draft State Of The Steelers Running Backs

The 2012 draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers is a few weeks behind us now. I have already posted about the state of the offensive and defensive line positions following the draft and today we will look at the state of the running back depth chart following the draft.

Rashard Mendenhall – Mendenhall is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is likely to start the 2012 season on the PUP list as he continues to recover from a torn ACL suffered in the 2011 season finale against the Cleveland Browns. Should Mendenhall indeed start the season on the PUP list he will miss the first six games Read more […]

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers post draft roster breakdown: Running Backs

The offseason roster limit for NFL teams was raised to 90 players after the new CBA was ratified last year. The Steelers, like everyone else, fill their roster with new faces at every position to try and find that next big thing either as a starter or for depth. Most times these players that are brought in as undrafted free agents or journeymen from around the league don’t make the final 53 man roster but each year there are a few gems to be found.
Sometimes these young players make the roster, sometimes they get placed on the practice squad. Either way the Steelers have a ton of faces to work with this offseason so let’s start a breakdown of each position and the new faces that could or likely will make the final roster.
The departure of veterans like Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, Bryant McFadden, Chris Kemoeatu and others will allow some new faces to take over at positions previously manned by the same players for years.  That’s something we haven’t been able to…

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

Talkin’ Running Backs: The Battle Is On Heading Into Training Camp

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Per dollar, it’s easily the Steelers‘ best positional unit.

Pittsburgh has been stockpiling talent at running back, a position that’s become interchangeable in the NFL over the years.

Gone are the days of league MVPs Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson. The high volume passing era has led to the stable philosophy, as opposed to the pure prize back.

Because, well, running back is a classic example of the rhetorical question “why have one when you can get two for less than twice the price?”

Injuries become a major factor in a salary cap league. It’s hard to pay, say, Adrian Peterson upwards of $ 9 million guaranteed, only to watch him blow out an ACL. And when he’s one huge part of your offense (read: Chiefs, Kansas City, Charles, Jamaal), you can get into some trouble without having talent in place to keep the ship moving forward in the event (likelihood?) of injury.

Enter Rashard Mendenhall. An excellent all-around back, but the delta between Mendenhall’s highest end and Isaac Redman’s, Pittsburgh’s second running back, is not as high as many other positions.

When Will Mendenhall Return?

In speaking with Middle Tennessee State strength coach Jason Spray earlier this week, he said running back is one of the more difficult positions to predict a timetable for return after an ACL tear. Due to the unpredictable movement necessary for the position (planting and cutting, making tacklers miss, etc.), it’s hard to gauge when he could return. Much of it is going to be about mental strength and resolve as well.

Rehabilitation from an injury like that is painful, arduous and boring. It’s a constant grind. Mendenhall is a phenomenal athlete, but the mental endurance necessary to make a successful return on the earlier end of the 9-12 month rehab process is tough.

I think the Steelers are going to have to plan on Mendenhall not being ready for significant action until at least Week 6 – incidentally, that’s the week after the Steelers bye, and the last week a player can stay on the Physically Unable to Perform list. After that, he must be placed on the IR or released. The Steelers will take as much time as they can to give him a chance to contribute later in the season.

Who will fill his place?

The unofficial BTSC hero, Isaac Redman, of course. But he won’t be a three-down back. The quartet of followers, Jonathan Dwyer, John Clay, Baron Batch and Chris Rainey, going into camp, look to battle it out for two positions behind him. Look for one of them to be cut after training camp and, if he clears waivers, to be placed on the practice squad. Of the remaining three, look for two of them to earn game day roster spots each week.

Each of them comes with a positive and a negative element. Dwyer has the skill, but has struggled with his weight and focus (he’s in the midst of the most important offseason of his career). Clay has 10 career carries (and a touchdown) while spending little time on the active roster, and also had weight concerns, but stepped up last season when his number was called (41 yards and a score in Week 16). Batch is versatile and brings a good combination of speed and strength, but is just finishing an ACL rehab project of his own, and has barely any more experience than a rookie. Rainey is lightning fast and boasts special teams ability, but is the smallest in terms of height and weight, and likely won’t be an option between the tackles.

Any of those evaluations are subject to change, and who stands out among the others depends on the work they put in this offseason.

Is This His Last Year in Pittsburgh?

You never know what a year will bring. As it is, is the most talented running back physically. While neither the scheme nor his overall health in the last few years ever suggested he could lead the league in rushing, Mendenhall has shown he’s capable of being a lead back in the NFL. It always comes down to cost, though, and with Redman set to hit restricted free agency in 2013, as well as the low contract price of the other four, it isn’t likely the Steelers are in a position to give Mendenhall much of a raise.

Most of the decision will be based on his ability to come back from his injury. It doesn’t seem, though, in May of 2012, he’ll be back next season, just based on the price tag he’ll command in free agency.

What happened to Mewelde Moore?

He’s still currently a free agent, and likely was asked by the Steelers to stay in shape in case the need arises. Salary cap issues and the progress of younger (and more inexpensive) players led the Steelers to leave Moore unsigned, but rest assured, the Steelers have him in their minds and will make a move if if doesn’t appear any of them can bring the all-around experience Moore can.

Moore has been relied on for similar roles in the past, and is said to be a favorite of Steelers coach MIke Tomlin. It’s not a stretch to envision a scenario in which none of the younger backs are separating themselves from the pack, so one of them is released and Moore is signed. It’s a scenario for which the Steelers must be prepared.

How Will Todd Haley’s Offense Utilize the Running Back?

If Haley’s teams have been anything, they’ve been fairly different from one to the next. He’s shown the ability to maximize the skill on his roster and use it to the best of their strengths.

In Kansas City, it was the multi-purpose threat of Charles both rushing and receiving. In Arizona, it was the veteran savvy of Kurt Warner combining with the skill of WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Recently, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger said Haley is “all about the no-huddle and using our wide-receiver weapons and throwing the ball and stuff like that.” Seems appropriate for the coach to speak about the passing game to the quarterback, and obviously, the wide receivers will get their share of targets. Look for Haley to incorporate the running back, whomever that may be, to catch high-percentage throws in an effort to both gain something on every passing play possible, and to reduce the number of hits Roethlisberger takes.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Running backs coach Wilson visits Steelers facility

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Kirby Wilson made a significant step in his recovery from a house fire that left him severely burned and in a medical-induced coma.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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Steelers expect running backs coach to return

Coach Mike Tomlin told the Steelers’ website Monday that he expects Kirby Wilson to resume coaching the team’s running backs this season. Tomlin said Wilson, badly injured in a Jan. 6 fire, is "doing great" and is ahead of schedule as far as his recovery.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

2012 NFL Scouting Combine Open Thread: Defensive Backs Close the Show


The Combine gives us as close to our fix of football in February, outside of game replays and XBox. It wraps up today, with the running, jumping, shuttling and interviewing of the defensive backs prospects.

It’s usually the most entertaining group, with many of the draft’s premier athletes looking for jobs with NFL teams among the secondary. While the Steelers look fairly set at cornerback (mostly due to their high level of attention paid to the cornerback position in the last few drafts), the selection of a safety to serve as an understudy for the next year or two seems like a viable option.

As far as the safety position overall, it appears Alabama’s Mark Barron leads all other prospects, and figures to land somewhere in the first round.

Watching LSU’s Morris Claiborne (a likely top six or seven pick) run will be interesting, assuming he chooses not to follow the annoying trend of not working out at the Combine.

There are plenty others, so log in and give us your opinions and analysis of the most athletic group (no bias there) in their big stage workout.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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NFL Network’s La Canfora Backs Ward Comments

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network and NFL.com caused quite a stir in Pittsburgh over the weekend by saying that Hines Ward would not be back next year for the Steelers. He joined the Fan Morning Show on Tuesday explain.

Jason backed his statement, calling Hines, “A player, who at this point in his career, is not part of [their] long-term plans.”

For the entire interview, click below:

Filed under: Football, Heard on The Fan, Sports, Steelers, Watch + Listen Tagged: FAN Morning Show, Hines Ward, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

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NFL Network’s La Confora Backs Ward Comments

*** Discuss this article and more at our Pittsburgh Steelers forum ***

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Jason La Confora of the NFL Network and NFL.com caused quite a stir in Pittsburgh over the weekend by saying that Hines Ward would not be back next year for the Steelers. He joined the Fan Morning Show on Tuesday explain.

Jason backed his statement, calling Hines, “A player, who at this point in his career, is not part of [their] long-term plans.”

For the entire interview, click below:

Filed under: Football, Heard on The Fan, Sports, Steelers, Watch + Listen Tagged: FAN Morning Show, Hines Ward, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

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