Jonathan Dwyer knows when Rashard Mendenhall is healthy that the former number one draft pick will be back in the starting lineup. But even then, he can see everyone getting their shot in the backfield.
“We’ll just be a running back by committee,” said Dwyer. “Whoever has the hot hand gets more of the carries.”
Over the last three weeks Dwyer has had two 100-yard plus games, while Isaac Redman turned in a 147-yard performance against the New York Giants while Dwyer was injured.
Dwyer expects to be back on the field this week, while Mendenhall is also working his way back, possibly giving the team a full stable of healthy backs for the first time all season in a few weeks. If that happens, Dwyer feels the best plan of action is to give everyone a shot at carrying the ball, until someone gets going.
“It’s good to rotate, let everyone get a feel for it,” said Dwyer. “Everybody has a role, whatever that is. Whoever gets that feeling gets the majority of the carries and another guy rolls in when he gets tired. With all of us able to make plays when we touch the ball, who knows what can happen.”
Dwyer credits the recent success of the ground game with getting comfortable with Todd Haley’s playbook and finding running plays that work to the strengths of the backs.
“We just found things we like to do,” said Dwyer. “Coach Haley has a feel for us now. He knows how we are as individuals and he is going off of that.
“I had two big games and Isaac had a phenomenal game last week. It shows how deep the running back position is and teams have to prepare for all three of us and Baron (Batch), Will (Johnson) and (Chris) Rainey. They have to prepare of all of us.”
Tags: Baron Batch, Chris Rainey, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Rashard Mendenhall, Will Johnson
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With running backs Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman missing practice for the second straight day on Thursday, Baron Batch knows that he is among those who might be called upon to play a bigger role in the running game this week against the Bengals.
Batch said he is preparing for this week’s game the same he has every game this year, knowing that throughout the season injuries can happen at a moment’s notice and quickly change your role.
“You never want to see anybody get hurt,” said Batch. “There aren’t many running backs that don’t miss games in the NFL. I am not surprised that my role has been increased, that is how it happens at running back. It’s just about taking advantage of opportunity.”
Batch knows better than anyone about injuries. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in the team’s 2011 training camp, bringing his rookie year to a quick halt. He spent the entire 2011 season in the training room and weight room, as well as this past offseason, working his way back at a fever pitch, never letting up.
“I am just thankful to be back, able to compete and play,” said Batch. “It’s hard to sit out a year, but it’s nice to be back out there, doing special teams and being a part of the team.
“It’s something I thought about a lot while I was out, being able to get out here and compete and be a part of the team again. Now that it’s here, I just want to take advantage of every opportunity.”
Batch did that against the Titans. While he had only 10 carries, he turned one of them into his first NFL touchdown with a 10-yard run.
“It was good to get that out of the way, under my belt,” said Batch of scoring his first touchdown. “Going into that game I didn’t think I was going to score a touchdown. But that is typically how it happens, the games you go in not really imagining something like that, it happens.”
Batch, who admits he forgot to save the football from his first touchdown but got it back thanks to the equipment staff, hopes more touchdowns are on the horizon to help the team win.
“It’s all about trying to improve,” said Batch. “There are a lot of things I can improve on that I am working on. It’s not the things I do right; it’s about the mistakes I made and need to clean up to become a better player.
“It’s one week at a time, one day at a time and collectively getting better as a team.”
Tags: Baron Batch
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A week ago the Steelers were at full strength at running back, but going into Sunday’s game against the Bengals the rotation there is uncertain.
Rashard Mendenhall, who returned from his ACL injury against the Eagles two games ago, injured his Achilles against the Titans on Thursday night, while Isaac Redman suffered an ankle injury.
Mendenhall, though, thinks he will be ready to go this week.
“I’m planning on being able to play,” Mendenhall said after Monday’s practice. “It’s a little tight. We’re just kind of working through it this week. I’m just taking it day-by-day. It’s not something I’m worried about too much.
“I know we’re both trying to get back. We’ll be day-to-day. Come Sunday night we’ll know for sure.”
Mendenhall said the Achilles injury could have resulted from a combination of favoring other areas coming off the ACL injury, as well as the short week coming back from playing on a Sunday to Thursday. He knows it’s a risk that comes with the game.
“I’m not frustrated at all,” said Mendenhall. “It’s just part of it. I’m going to continue to work. I’ve been in this position before. I’m just going to continue to work out of it. This process is a long process coming off of a major surgery so I’m just continuing to get better with it.
“With every extra day I’m just trying to do everything I can – work out, get extra treatment, different things like that.”
If either Mendenhall or Redman can’t go on Sunday, the Steelers do have a stable of running backs ready to carry the load, including Baron Batch, Chris Rainey and Jonathan Dwyer, who has been inactive since Mendenhall has returned to action.
“It’s just been a numbers game,” said Dwyer. “I don’t play as much special teams as the other guys. I am just preparing for it and am excited to get the opportunity. I just have to do what I have been doing, I try to make some type of play to get the team going and do whatever I can to help us get the win.”
Tags: Baron Batch, Chris Rainey, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Rashard Mendenhall
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Injuries at running back, including Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer being limited in practice this week, has given Baron Batch an opportunity to get more reps, even working with the first team and the third team at times during practice this week.
“I’ll be ready for whatever they ask me to do,” said Batch. “It’s good I am getting these reps and get ready. I am just happy to be back. I will have to be dragged off the practice field to not be out there. I worked way too hard to get back out there to not be out there, you won’t hear me complain.”
Batch spent last season on injured reserve after tearing his ACL in training camp and from the time he was given the green light worked incessantly with the team’s athletic trainers and strength and conditioning staff to get back.
“There are only a few people that know how much work I put in,” said Batch. “They know what I did. They see me getting the work, my tongue is hanging out and they look over and smile. We talked about this moment, getting an opportunity, a chance to fight for a roster spot.
“It’s been a lot of work, but they would have to drag me off the field. There are guys scratching and fighting for reps. I am not going to complain. It’s a chance to show the coaches what I can do.”
Tags: Baron Batch
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Running back Baron Batch has waited almost a year to get back to hitting in pads, and after doing it for two days he impressively is right back in the swing of things.
“It felt good,” said Batch. “It felt good to get back out there and start hitting again with the pads on. It’s been roughly a year since I have been in the pads and I have been anxious to get out there and it felt good.”
Batch suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp last year, bringing his rookie year to a quick halt. When he took the field for the first time on Saturday he said there were some thoughts about contact in the back of his mind, but after the backs-on-backer drill that quickly went away.
“That is probably one of the most physical drills we do in camp,” said Batch. “Being able to do that helps with confidence, getting hit with what I went through.”
Coach Mike Tomlin was pleased with what he saw out of Batch on the first day of hitting.
“I like the fact that there was no hesitation in his play,” said Tomlin. “For a guy that’s coming off a knee injury, I thought he moved with authority and trusted his knee, not only in competition periods but in individual work. You get an opportunity to see those things when they’re working with Coach (Kirby) Wilson as running backs. He’s a sharp young guy and he’s coming back nicely.”
So far Batch has been trying to go through practice without wearing a protective brace or sleeve on his knee.
“One of my goals for coming back off this was to be able to go through OTAs and minicamp and be able to come back out here and not have to wear a brace,” said Batch. “I’ve met those goals and it feels good, and I won’t have to wear a brace.”
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