- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Ravens reporter
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Jonathan Dwyer has gained over 100 yards in his first two career starts. He's the first Steelers running back to crack 100 yards rushing in consecutive games in four seasons. He's drawn comparisons to Jerome Bettis.
Everyone is in agreement that Dwyer should remain the starter even when Rashard Mendenhall is healthy again, right? Not exactly. Dwyer, along with Isaac Redman told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he believes Mendenhall should keep his job because he was the starter before going down with an Achilles injury.
"I mean, Rac is the guy," said Dwyer, calling Mendenhall by his nickname. "Rac has been here for years, and they drafted him in the first round to be a starter. That's his room and we complement him."
Dwyer should be commended for being nice about the situation (this probably wouldn't sit well with Bengals coach Marvin Lewis these days), but there's only controversy at running back if Dwyer doesn't start. His recent production shows that he's the most consistent running back that the Steelers have. Dwyer's 5.2 yards-per-carry average ranks sixth in the NFL. The Steelers need to stick with Dwyer until his play says otherwise.
Mendenhall has missed the past two games with the Achilles injury but he returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis. This could force coach Mike Tomlin to make a decision on whether to start Dwyer or Mendenhall. After missing the first three games of the season while recovering from offseason knee surgery, Mendenhall gained 68 yards in his season debut before going down with his most recent injury on Oct. 11.
Dwyer didn't practice Wednesday because of a quadriceps injury that sidelined him for the final plays of the fourth quarter Sunday. He's expected to return to practice Thursday.
Jonathan Dwyer has gained over 100 yards in his first two career starts. He's the first Steelers running back to crack 100 yards rushing in consecutive games in four seasons.