Pittsburgh Steelers running back carousel: Who gets the starting nod?

pittsburgh steelers

Jonathan Dwyer (Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

This upcoming season in Pittsburgh, an interesting and important position to watch is that of running back. The Pittsburgh Steelers in recent seasons really haven’t had a go-to back. That role was supposed to be Rashard Mendenhall’s, but he never really broke out to be a real stud and now Mendenhall is on the Arizona Cardinal’s roster. The Steelers have to decide on who their starter will be for the upcoming season and the battle for the starting position will be interesting.

As it stands right now, listed as the number one back is Jonathan Dwyer. Last season Dwyer had a total of 623 yards on 156 carries and found the end zone twice. Dwyer is someone to keep your eye on once training camp rolls around. He is only listed as the number one back because he was the most successful last season.

Dwyer was quoted during a radio interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio saying, “I think I know how to play this game, and I’ve been here for a long time now and I think it’s my job to lose…”

It appears that Dwyer is serious about becoming the starter and will train in Florida with the likes of Maurice Jones-Drew and Matt Forte once minicamp ends. If Dwyer can shed some pounds before training camp, he can definitely make a case for the starting job.

Another running back on the roster is Isaac Redman. Redman became a fan favorite in Pittsburgh and has shown some signs of being a quality back. Redman last season racked up 410 yards on 110 carries and had two touchdowns. He recently dropped 10 pounds in an effort to be more elusive. A quicker Redman benefits the passing game: Redman is solid when catching passes and Ben Roethlisberger could use another target. Redman has good agility and can be nimble on his feet. Redman won’t be the starting back but will most likely remain on the roster in the role he’s held in previous seasons.

The newest addition to the steel city roster is 2nd round draft pick, Le’Veon Bell. Bell being drafted by the Steelers in the second round makes you believe that the team is not confident in the current talent on the roster and that they were very high on Bell. Bell’s name was called before Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball, who were expected to go before him. This move by the Steelers has to mean they are hopeful that Bell is their man for this season and seasons to come. Bell is a big back and has very good agility. He amasssed 3,300 career yards while at Michigan State with 33 touchdowns, and seems to be the favorite to hold the starting position.

A running back on the roster that was thought to be a promising star is Baron Batch. Unfortunately for Batch he hasn’t made too much of an impact and it doesn’t seem likely he’ll have any sort of roll this coming season. Last season he only gained 49 yards on 25 carries, but did score one touchdown. Should Batch make the roster, his role would probably be one of a special team’s player.

A new face to the Steeler’s team is newly acquired player, LaRod Stephens-Howling. Howling came from the Arizona Cardinals and could be a great player for the team this season. Howling is capable of a lot; he is an explosive player which benefits the team not only in the backfield but on special teams too. Howling had 357 yards on 111 carries and 4 touchdowns last season with the Cards. He also shows a lot of promise when it comes to catching the football: 17 catches for 106 yards last season. Howling will definitely be on the roster, watch for him to provide a spark on kick and punt returns a long with screen plays on offense.

These men are the highlighted players for the running back positions this year in Pittsburgh. For what we know right now expect Bell to be the starter for the Steelers with Redman, Dwyer and Howling providing help in the back as well. Batch will most likely be traded or cut. However, anything is possible once training camp begins and it will interesting to see how everything plays out for the black and gold’s backfield.

  • http://DailyIowan.com Dominick White

    The position battle will be settled during training camp. Personally, I think Pittsburgh will use a running back by committee system but I expect Le’veon Bell and Jonathan Dwyer to split the majority of the carries. The Steelers desperately need to improve their rushing attack. Go Steelers!!