The Steelers managed just 69 yards rushing in each of their last two games, with the longest run from scrimmage going only 22 yards.
While the Steelers’ running backs want nothing more than to send those numbers skyrocketing through the roof, they know they have to be smart and not try to be heroic, but just get the job done.
“The main thing is making sure everybody is on the same page, we are aggressive in our running game and physical, running hard like we always do,” said back Jonathan Dwyer. “It’s being patient and don’t try to get the home run plays every time we touch the ball, making sure every run is efficient, three or four yards every time we touch the ball. If we do that the run game will take care of itself.”
Dwyer knows the running game has to pick things up this week against the Bengals for the offense to develop some much needed consistency and get into a rhythm.
“We just want to play a complete game,” said Dwyer. “It’s important to set up a score, make a play or a block so Ben (Roethlisberger) has time. It’s about being a complete player and doing our job and being specific on our details.”
Dwyer only had nine carries against the Cowboys, and while he is wants more opportunities, he knows the important thing is winning.
“Any running back would want more than single digit carries, but in all reality it’s whatever to me,” said Dwyer. “I just want to play and help my team get a win.
“I don’t think about all of that. I just want to help and be a part of helping us get a victory. That is what my mindset is about. I just want to be a contributor.”
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During his weekly press conference Coach Mike Tomlin referred to this week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals as “an enormous week for us.”
That is definitely something that doesn’t have to be told to the players, especially the veterans, as there is no doubt they know what is at stake this week…win and their playoff hopes stay alive.
“This is a playoff game for us,” said receiver Jerricho Cotchery. “You lose and you are out of it. The young guys need to see how the older guys are preparing and approaching the game and responding and follow the lead in that regard. We are going to be ready. We are preparing the way we need to prepare right now.
“Guys are just locked in right now, doing what we need to do to prepare and go out and have a successful game. That is all we can do right now. Everything we do this week, we need to do it right and carry it over on to the field.”
Many of the veterans on this team are used to fighting for playoff positioning at this point of the season, not fighting for their playoff lives. But Cotchery said the team understands the situation they are in this year, and at 7-7 nothing is guaranteed.
“We’re embracing the reality of it,” said Cotchery. “We are what we are. We can’t dwell on how we got here. If you do, you are going to lose the game. We still have an opportunity to win these games and get into the playoffs.”
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Tackle Mike Adams was limited in practice on Wednesday, but after missing the last three weeks he was happy to finally get some work in.
“It was great to be out there,” said Adams. “I couldn’t do everything I wanted to, but I am definitely getting better. It was sore, but I guess that is expected. I just hope to do more and more every day.”
Missing practice on Wednesday were defensive ends Cameron Heyward (not injury related) and Al Woods (illness), safety Troy Polamalu (not injury related), and cornerback Ike Taylor (ankle), while cornerback Keenan Lewis (hip) and receiver Emmanuel Sanders (rib) saw limited work.
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