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Monday, September 9, 2013
Jonathan Dwyer could be upgrade at RB

By Scott Brown

PITTSBURGH -- Another injury at running back led to the Steelers bringing Jonathan Dwyer back to Pittsburgh. The sorry state of the ground game may compel coach Mike Tomlin to play Dwyer if not feature him when the Steelers visit Cincinnati next Monday night.

The Steelers generated next to nothing on the ground in their season opener, and starting running back Isaac Redman fumbled twice, losing one of them after the offense had driven inside the Titans 10-yard line.

Redman spent considerable time on the sidelines after the second fumble, and he may not have gotten back into the game had LaRod Stephens-Howling not gone down with a knee injury.

When asked after the 16-9 loss to the Titans whether he expects to start against the Bengals, Redman said, “Coach Tomlin told me on the sidelines he still has all the confidence in the world, so we’ll see.”

The competition at running back will at least be wide open this week in practice, and there is no reason why the Steelers shouldn’t give Dwyer a long look.

He was the Steelers’ most talented runner when they released him on Aug. 31 and instead kept the recently acquired Felix Jones.

And the Steelers don’t have many other options until rookie Le’Veon Bell returns from a mid-foot sprain, an injury that could sideline the second-round draft pick for a couple of more games.

Jones probably takes over as the Steelers’ third-down back with Stephens-Howling out for the rest of the season.

That leaves Dwyer, who led the Steelers with 623 yards last season, and Redman to battle for the starting job. And the latter certainly didn’t help himself with his ball-security issues against the Titans or the 9 yards he mustered on 8 carries.

Another signing on Monday provided clarity on the offensive line and probably immediate help for the beleaguered unit.

Fernando Velasco started 13 games at center for the Titans last season, and the 6-foot-4, 320-pounder looks like the obvious choice to step in for Maurkice Pouncey.

Cody Wallace, whom the Steelers signed on Sept. 1, is better suited to provide depth at center and guard. Kelvin Beachum, who took over at center for the injured Pouncey on Sunday, is more valuable as the Steelers’ top reserve along the offensive line.

They also want to use Beachum as a sixth lineman/eligible receiver, at least until starting tight end Heath Miller returns from reconstructive knee surgery.