Last Monday Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said during his press conference that we shouldn\’t read much into the running back rotation currently be used during the offseason practices and that putting the pads on in training camp is when it matters the most. At that time, I speculated Jonathan Dwyer was only being given the majority of the first-team reps because he ended the 2012 season as the starter and on Tuesday running backs coach Kirby Wilson confirmed that to indeed be the case.
“We just start them where we ended,” Wilson said Tuesday after practice, according to a report by Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “There really is no pecking order other than that’s how we ended the season. Guys are jumping in accordingly and rotating themselves. There really is no rhyme or reason to it.”
In an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio Tuesday night, Dwyer said that despite the pecking order not being firm, he intends on emerging as the starter out of training camp.
“I think I bring experience,” said Dwyer. “I think I know how to play this game, and I\’ve been here for a long time now, and I think it\’s my job to lose, and it\’s up to me to solidify that opportunity for myself and take my play to a whole another level this upcoming season.”
If Dwyer indeed intends on taking his play to another level in 2013, he will likely need to take his weight to a lower level between now and the start of training camp. According to Kaboly, the Steelers former sixth-round draft pick plans on spending the next month down in Florida working out with running backs Matt Forte and Maurice Jones-Drew at Pete Bommarito Performance System.
Dwyer made that same Florida trip last offseason and it worked out just fine for him, but he might need to shed a few more pounds this time around with the Steelers expected to use more of the outside zone in 2013.
“I am going to do whatever I have to do in order to get ready, compete and keep my spot and to become my best,” Dwyer said per the Kaboly report. “This is the way I can take care of my family and take care of my wife and son. This is just another year to prove myself and become better than I was.”
As far as Dwyer visibly tapping out of games last season, the Georgia Tech product once again addressed that issue on Tuesday after already addressing it several times only this time he made it clear that the other running backs also took themselves out of games as well.
“I guess it was because mine was more visible and I put my hand on top of my head,” Dwyer said. “Some guys just run out. I am the one who visually does it so you can see it. I am not a selfish guy. I am not going to take the ball and something bad happens. I am going to go as long as I go. There are many plays where I am out there for a long period of time. People just see when I tap out. You want the bulk of the carries but if you need a blow, you need a blow and then get back in.”
As far Dwyer and the other running backs go as it relates to being on their details thus far throughout the offseason practices, Wilson let it be known that his group has been “near-perfect” thus far. Wilson was also asked after practice to describe what he\’s looking for out of second-round draft pick Le\’Veon Bell moving forward.
“Just the ability to grasp the entire offense, the entire package, from a protection standpoint, ball security, running the right route on pass plays,” said Wilson. “We are looking for all phases from him in order to be able to compete at the highest level. The fundamentals have to be there.”