Is Chris Rainey Just Another Stefan Logan?

When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted running back Chris Rainey in the 5th round this past April I must admit that I was pretty excited. The comparisons to Dexter McCluster of the Kansas City Chiefs were obvious considering offensive coordinator Todd Haley drafted him as well. Rainey, however, has been a huge disappointment so far this season, at least as far as his usage goes.

Through 14 games Rainey has carried the ball just 25 times for 100 yards and caught 14 passes for another 60 yards. He has returned 35 kickoffs for 922 yards and 3 punts for another 16 yards. 39 touches through 14 games is not even 3 per game if you are scoring at home.

Have we seen enough of Rainey so far to form a solid opinion of him? No, but right now he looks to be more like a Stefan Logan type of player than he does a full-fledged change of pace back. Isn\’t that what Baron Batch was supposed to be anyways? The new Mewelde Moore. Batch is an enigma right now as well as he has only touched the ball 29 times this season and has bounced between the practice squad and active roster over the course of the last few weeks.

Do the Steelers even have a third down back right now? You know, a back that comes in on third downs that is threat to both run between the tackles and catch the ball out of the backfield? I don\’t think so and judging by the way that Haley and head coach Mike Tomlin have juggled the running backs this season, I am not sure they think they have a first or second down back running back either.

Last season the Steelers threw passes to their “true” running backs 68 times and completed 48 of them. Through the first 14 games of this season they have thrown 80 passes to them completing 55 of them. Should that pace continue it will result in 91 times, just 23 more than 2011, or about 1.5 more times per game than last season. So much for hoping we would see the screen game used more this season.

Haley said earlier this season that the reason Rainey wasn\’t being used more in the passing game was because he was drawing too much attention every time that he was on the field. At that time Haley insinuated that the rookie needed to be respected more as a ball carrier before he could be used in other ways.

Rainey was on the field Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys for 13 snaps and carried the ball 3 times for 15 times. 2 of those carries included a sprint draw and a wrap around draw. He also was targeted twice in the passing game during the final drive of the first half, a drive that also saw him get his third and final carry of the game. All of his work came in the second quarter.

The Steelers offense only threw to a running back once in the second half and that was an incomplete pass to Jonathan Dwyer during the first possessions of the second half. Fullback Will Johnson did have a 21 yard catch in the second half, but we are talking about running backs here. Throwing to Johnson on the wheel route twice a game should be a given.

The Steelers must win their final two games if they are to make the playoffs and using the running backs out of the backfield more should be part of the game plan moving forward as it will help loosen things up even more. Should it be Rainey? Should be Rashard Mendenhall, who by the way has an 8.8 yards per catch number over the course of his career? That is up to Haley to decide, but as it looks right now the Steelers drafted another Logan with their fifth round draft pick and not a McCluster like many of us thought.

The Logan type players are a dime a dozen, especially if they are going to be used as little as Rainey has been this season.

  • SteelerDave

    I like Rainey and can only blame Haley for not utilizing him the way he should.

  • steeltown

    Exactly, far to early to judge how good this guy is. He is undersized and needs alittle more meat on his bones, but more than anything, he, like Batch and Redman have not been utilized correctly. Did you see the flip/screen to Redman he ran for like 15yds and it wouldve been more had he not stepped out of bounds. I would run that play 5-6times a game.. and dont get me started on why Mendenhall isnt atleast active on game days, he obviously could be used as a ‘catch out of the backfield’ type guy

  • steeltown

    Have they even split him out in the slot yet? I cant recall, but it seems like he is always getting the ball flipped to him in the backfield

  • steeltown

    In actuality, all the RB’s on roster can catch out of the backfield. Dwyer should be the power run between the tackles guy, while Mendenhall & Rainey should be playing the Mewelde Moore role with Redman to platoon and keep them fresh

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    Rainey does not look strong enough to me. If you come out of the backfield, you need to be able to get through some traffic. I hope he develops, but I’d rather have Redman on the field in the situations where they use Rainey.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    Montee Ball anyone?

  • steeltown

    Would be sweet!

  • Tom

    Ah…the conundrum of having a RB that you don’t trust to block/protect the franchise QB. You only let them play when they are going to get the ball…..but the defense knows that too.

  • steeltown

    Exactly…. still think they should have 10-15 snaps with him in the slot, and not just go over the middle but use him and Brown in crossing patterns and other routes to utilize their speed and short area quickness

  • zyzak

    Hes too slow for pro football

  • So was Bettis…

  • steeltown

    Umm.. yes.. you mean like Alfred Morris and Arian Foster? Yea those guys went undrafted because of their slow 40times

  • zyzak

    Bettis was the fastest big man ever Ball is injury prone and slow

  • JT

    That Sproles fella seems to do pretty well for New Orleans.

  • zyzak

    Bettis was the tenth pick in the draft,

  • Kevin Gobleck

    Ball: 4.44 40 yard dash, Arian Foster: 4.68 40 yard dash, Ray Rice 4.42 40 yard dash. SO he is definatly fast enough he makes people miss, is breaking most of barry sanders records and i haven’t found any back track of injury’s I mean a couple but everyone get injured

  • zyzak

    Ball hasn’t hit the combine yet, your figures of 4.4 are bogus WTF

  • Bettis ran between a 4.48 (unverified sources) and a 4.7 (according to Bleacher Report) depending on who you ask as there is no official number. the reality is probably around 4.6. Ball has been clocked at 4.57. Dwyer’s fastest 40 time was I think 4.52. Know what you are talking about before you just make stuff up. I know numbers aren’t your thing, but then you should not enter numbers discussions.

  • And he was slow, which is my point. Yes, he was fast for a big man, but he was slow for a RB. You are unknowingly refuting your own argument by talking about a slow RB being drafted high. Especially since nobody here said anything about picking him in any specific round.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Maybe I just don’t get it, but with all that speed, why isn’t he out there running fly patterns? The defense can’t just ignore a guy as fast as Wallace getting behind the secondary..

  • Reader783

    You can run a 40 before the combine

  • Reader783

    Maybe they should let him return punts rather than just watch the ball go over his head 4 times a game.

  • Pete

    I would disagree that Logan type players are a dime a dozen. Logan returned punts and kickoffs well for the Steelers and the Lions. He has always been in the top half of the league in returns. Sometimes top 5.

    The problem with guys like Logan is that they don’t play anything other than ST. It’s far better to have guys like Brown who can play both so you don’t have to use a roster spot just for a punt returner.

  • Mike Carroll

    Good point. It’s certainly disappointing to hear Todd Haley as much as acknowledge this as well. If he feels this way, then why did the team draft him? Rainey may turn out to be a good return man and contribute the rare gadget type play. But I would have preferred drafting someone you could envision as a good, solid every down player.