Trust, not talent, led to Dwyer's release

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
5:04
PM ET

 
Running back Jonathan Dwyer has good vision. He is light on his feet for a running back who is listed at 229 pounds but often weighed much more than that, particularly during the offseason. Dwyer also had success in the NFL, which is why he probably won't be out of work for long.

He was the biggest surprise cut as the Pittsburgh Steelers pared their roster to 53 players. His release looks like a curious one, if not a head-scratcher, for a team that will be without feature back-in-waiting Le'Veon Bell for the first part of the regular season.

With Bell sidelined by a mid-foot sprain, Dwyer was arguably the Steelers' most talented runner. A ground game that ranked 26th in the NFL last season (96.1 rushing yards per game) needs all the help it can get until Bell is ready to take over as the No. 1 back.

So why is Dwyer, who led the team with 623 rushing yards last season, no longer with the Steelers? It simply came down to trust, and Dwyer having squandered too much of it because of weight and fumbling issues.

It didn't help Dwyer that Felix Jones looked better than anyone could have expected after the Steelers acquired the sixth-year veteran on Aug. 23. Jones played well in two preseason games. He made the team despite having less than a week to convince them he can help them after underachieving in Dallas and not even making it through a preseason in Philadelphia.

But Dwyer's release was more about the former sixth-round draft pick and less about Jones' strong closing argument in Carolina -- where he rushed for 58 yards on 14 carries last Thursday night.

What seemed like a harmless play in the Steelers' final preseason game in fact summed up why the Steelers became fed up with Dwyer.

He had a careless fumble at the end of a run, one that didn't cost the Steelers because center John Malecki alertly pounced on it. In the end miscues like that cost Dwyer dearly -- and are why he was among the players deemed expendable when the Steelers finalized their 53-man roster.

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

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