Having a different starting running back throughout this season has become commonplace for the Steelers with Isaac Redman getting five starts, Rashard Mendenhall four, and Jonathan Dwyer two. But all the while, Mendenhall was listed on the depth chart as the team’s starter. Until this week, that is.
Coach Mike Tomlin mixed things up, naming Dwyer the starter and listing him first on the depth chart, while Redman is listed second and Mendenhall now third.
“That was their decision, what they wanted to do,” said Dwyer, who was very low key about it. “I’m just trying to do my job. It’s what they want to do and I am adjusting to it. I just want to help us win games. That is what it’s all about. The fact that they want me to start is their decision, but I just want to do what I can to help us win games.”
Dwyer is the Steelers leading rusher with 98 carries for 429 yards, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Redman has 87 carries for 307 yards and two touchdowns, while Mendenhall, who has been injured part of the season, has 34 carries for 113 yards.
“That is how we are going to approach the week and I will just do whatever I am asked to,” said Mendenhall. “I don’t think too much of it. I have been in a lot of positions. I am just approaching this week like I approach every week.”
Mendenhall said Tomlin talked to him about the change, but when asked what his reaction was or if he was surprised, he said he is just approaching it like he does every other week.
“I don’t really react to too much of anything,” said Mendenhall. “I just continue to prepare and I will be ready to play. For me I don’t react. That is what is in front of me and that is how I am going to approach it.
“I just approach the week as it is. There is always opportunity and whatever happens from those is just what happens. I am just going to take advantage of whatever opportunities I get.”
One thing that will be a focus for all of the backs this week is ball security, after each of them fumbled in the 20-14 loss to the Browns last week.
“We are going to work on it,” said Dwyer. “It’s going to be made an emphasis for us all week. We’re going to get it done.”
Don’t look for the players to be carrying a football with them around the team’s practice facility, instead the work will all be done on the field.
“We just have to get back to the fundamentals,” said Mendenhall. “We saw on film where we were kind of lax in places. We have to approach this week like we are going to approach the game with our ball security.”
Running back isn’t the only position where there could be a shake-up this week as Mike Wallace is listed as the starting wide receiver as usual, but Emmanuel Sanders is listed as the starter at the spot as well. Wallace said it doesn’t matter who starts on Sunday, he will be out there giving his all.
“I have to still do what I have to do, regardless of the situation,” said Wallace. “If I am out there, I will give everything I’ve got. I am still going to be in the football game regardless of the situation.
“It’s not going to change the way I prepare or anything I do. I am going to do everything the same.”
Wallace, who had just one reception for nine yards against the Browns, admittedly has been frustrated by his production this season, but said it isn’t from lack of effort.
“I have to prepare like I do,” said Wallace. “I think I work hard every single day. I don’t lag, I don’t play at practice. I work hard every day.”