Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Chris Rainey has yet to make an impact on offense and offensive coordinator Todd Haley explained on Thursday why that has yet to happen.
"When he shows up there is a little alert that goes up," said Haley when asked if defenses are keying on Rainey. "The key with him is that we have to get him into the flow of the offense at some point when everybody is comfortable. When he is making regular carries, I think maybe he won’t be noticed as much."
Through the first three games of the season the Florida product has 6 carries for 15 yards and 4 receptions for another 27 yards in 28 offensive snaps.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked about Rainey on Wednesday during his talk with the media and his reply was similar to the one Haley gave Thursday.
"It feels like when he’s out there the defense is always yelling to watch the trick play and watch 22," said Roethlisberger. "It’s like they know something is going on when he’s out there. That’s why we have to keep utilizing him in different ways and I think we’ll keep doing that."
As both Haley and Roethlisberger point out, Rainey will likely remain ineffective until he starts getting more carries and regular snaps on offense. When that happens it will be easier to get him the football out in space without the defense being so keyed in on him.
Haley made it sound in his comments like they are not comfortable doing that just yet. Perhaps his biggest priority right now is getting the running game as a whole on track, and with good reason.
Heading into the Sunday game against the Philadelphia Eagles the Steelers running backs are averaging a dismal 2.49 yards per carry. The hope is that Rashard Mendenhall, who is on track to make is season debut, can improve things.
Until then, Rainey will likely continue to get his usual 9 or so snaps a game and defenses will continue to key on him whenever he is on the field.