The Steelers 2012 Running Game – Who Gets the Ball Opening Day?

2012 is fast approaching. The Steelers have a new OC, and with it, an idea they are going to run the football more to try and protect their biggest investment – Ben Roethlisberger.

Ok, that’s all fine and good, and I understand what the team is thinking in that department. Problem is, when you try and break down how this team is going to run, it starts with one thing – WHO is going to run?

Rashard Mendnhall to me is no way going to be ready for 2012. He’s going to start the year on the PUP list, and there’s a shot he won’t see the field in 2012 at all if he doesn’t make progress throughout the rest of the summer.

So when the Steelers line up opening night against the Broncos, who gets the ball first? And will that person be good enough to lift an offense that has good wide outs and a Pro Bowl QB?

1. Isaac Redmen – I love what Redmen did in the last game of the season against the Broncos, and take away a couple times he put the ball on the ground in Cleveland, and he had a solid game in backup of Mendenhall, who was hurt in that game. He seems to keep his legs moving at all times, and you can tell he’s hungry. To me, unless one of these guys below totally blows up – Redmen should be the starter.

2. Jonathan Dwyer – You remember this guy – right? Well, Dwyer had a memorable play in 2011, rushing for 76 yards in a carry against the Titans, putting up 107 yards on 11 carries that day. A foot injury landed him again out of the ability to play, but he should be the main backup for Redmen when the season kicks off. I’d love to see more of him and what he can do in 2012.

3. John Clay – Another interesting prospect who has spent time on the teams practice squad. He played in two games last year when Dwyer went down, and had 10 carries for 41 yards and a touchdown. He’s also a big guy, coming in at 6’1, 248 pounds, and can punish opponents when the game is on the line and the team needs a yard. Could be an interesting summer for Clay.

4. Chris Rainey – I can see this 5th round pick being a HUGE player for this team in a variety of roles in 2012. Reports say he’s been impressive in camp and OTAs to this point, and will be a great situational player for the Steelers offense. He can catch the ball, and he will take the role of Mewelde Moore, who left the Steelers this offseason to go to the Colts. I can’t wait to see what this kid can do with the ball in his hands.

5. Baron Batch – A 2001 7th round pick who was hurt last season, he tore his ACL and will need to have a good camp just to make this team IMO. He should get a spot if he plays as well as last season, as he was rolling before he got hurt.

About the Author

Matt Loede
Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and of course, the National Football League. On NFL Sunday’s you can hear Matt on National networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and other stations around the country. Matt also joined The Washington Post in 2009 as a guest columnist on league hot topics. Born and raised in Cleveland, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

2 Comments on "The Steelers 2012 Running Game – Who Gets the Ball Opening Day?"

  1. Issac Redman | June 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Reply

    Um, unless he recently changed his name it’s Issac Redman, not Redmen.

  2. Don’t worry Issac, by the end of pre-season the scribes will know how to spell your name.

    I’ve been beating the drum for Redman for the past two years. He runs low and with power, and he delivers consistent yardage. Given the chance, he can grind out a 1,000 yard season. What he lacks is breakaway speed. Enter Rainey, who offers that kind of speed and, if rumor is right, the good hands that a 3rd down back needs, which is why the versatile M. Moore is gone.

    Dwyer is faster than I thought, but (like Mendenhall) he has a bad habit of running very upright, which takes away his power and keeps him from breaking tackles. Clay simply needs more playing time to prove himself a contributor at the NFL level; I want to see if the guy can push a LB into the end zone and pick up a blitz in protection.

    The truth is any of these guys can do the job, IF the O-line can make them holes. The rushing game starts upfront. If, as Colbert admits, the offense is going to have early growing pains, it won’t be because of our backs. To the contrary, our RBs may have to carry the team early until the O-line can give Ben the protection he needs.

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