Special Teams Play And Salary Likely To Be Determining Factor In Dwyer Verus Redman Roster Battle

Trying to predict a 53 man roster is a fun process as there are so many things to think about while doing so. A big part of the process when trying to do this is figuring out which players can contribute better on special teams than others in addition to the money that each player is scheduled to earn.

Ever since the Pittsburgh Steelers signed free agent running back LaRod Stephens-Howling and drafted running back Le\’Veon Bell, I have been firm in my belief that running backs Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer will be battling for one spot on the 53 man roster. While the real battle between the two of them will come down to which one can contribute more to the offense than the other, their special teams play and salary could wind up being the tie breaker if that battle is deemed close.

I fully expect the Steelers to only keep four running backs on the 53 man roster this year and with Stephens-Howling being roster lock in my eyes at this point, that theoretically leaves Redman, Dwyer and Baron Batch battling for the two other spots.

The reason that I believe Batch has an easier path to the 53 man roster is because his special teams play is far superior to that of both Redman and Dwyer. In addition, he brings a different skill set to the table and is $843,000 cheaper. Cap space and salary are both very important factors when building a roster, especially in the case of the Steelers, as they will need to free up money being as I expect one or two extensions could be forthcoming during training camp. Do you really think that they want to keep two backup running backs that each earns $1.323 million on the roster this season? Sure, one of them might begin the season as the starter, but sooner or later it will be Bell\’s job.

Could the Steelers keep five running backs? Sure, anything is possible, but one would likely be a game day inactive should that indeed happen and if Batch is deemed as big of a contributor on special teams as I think he will be; it won\’t be him.

When you consider that the Steelers won\’t likely want many if any of their 22 starters to play on special teams, unless they can help it, the 53 man roster at that point has been trimmed to 25 spots needing to be filled when you add in the three specialist and two backup quarterbacks.

You can then trim down open spots even further from that number based upon the numbers needed at a particular position. At the very least, I expect five additional linebackers, two additional safeties, three additional cornerbacks, three additional offensive linemen, two additional tight ends and two additional defensive linemen to make the final 53 man roster outside of the starters, and those minimums eat up another 17 of those 25 open roster spots.

If you were to add in Stephens-Howling, Batch, Jerricho Cotchery and Markus Wheaton as roster locks, you are now down four spots up for grabs. One of those spots will go to a fifth wide receiver, so that really leaves just three spots up for grabs based only on the minimums per position that I listed above. Any additions over those minimums that I listed, which is surely to happen at a couple of them, will eat up another few roster spots.

The final cut down date is still a long way off, but don\’t think that special teams play and money won\’t be a huge determining factor in the battle between Dwyer and Redman.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I may be in the small minority here, but I truly believe that we have 2 spots open between 4 guys at the RB spot. Stevens-Howling and Bell are locks. That leaves the other 4 guys fighting for the last spots. McNeal is not someone I am counting out. Everything we know about the runners we have in camp has changed with the new blocking scheme. What we think Batch, Dwyer and Redman are capable of, may not truly be what they are capable of now.

  • TrueSteelerForLife

    I think Batch is the odd man out. You are always one play away from an injury and Batch could be stashed on the practice squad, like he was last year. If it does come down to Redman and Dwyer I hope they keep Dwyer

  • steeltown

    I think Batch was active for 12games last season.. makes him ineligible

    I agree about Dwyer

  • cencalsteeler

    The determining factor will be training camp. The advantage the coaches have is the variety of backs on the roster currently. Speed, strength, size, quickness, finesse and bulldozers. Who picks up the zone blocking scheme? Who’s in shape? Who has good pass blocking skills? Who has good hands? And who’s knocking heads for extra yards. That, coupled with contributing on special teams should sort it all out for us. This is definitely a nice position the staff has put themselves in.

  • JohnnyV1

    Of the two, it will be Redman, no contest. Dwyer, when in shape, is a more talented runner. But, he’s a “I’ll do just enough to get by” type of guy. Ben gets irritated by Dywer b/c he misses blocks and his assignments. Redman works, knows how to block, is where he’s supposed to be. Unless Redman gets injured, it’s Redman out of those two.

  • Ahmad

    Speacial Teams and money will be a big determining factor but I don’t think it should be. Batch may be cheaper and can play special teams, but that is pretty much all he can as he sucks as a RB. Yes Redman and Dwyer have $1.3 million salaries, but both are clearly better runners than Batch and remember we are trying to improve the running game. With that said, I’d rather take Redman and Dwyer with their $1.3 million salaries and their running abilities, than Batch and his cheaper salaries and special teams play.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    I actually see LaRod and Batch battling over a roster spot with neither being a lock. Batch had 4 tackles on special teams. Big friggin deal! Oh cool, he can block too. How about those 49 yards on 25 carries? Wow! Amazeballs! I’m not a fan of LaRod either. He’s a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none RB. Arizona takes our castoffs, not the other way around! Both these guys are garbage, and we’re not a better team if either of them make the 53.

  • 2443scott

    there has been more games over years and nfl wants even more so why not give a few more players to the team maybe jump it up to 58 from 53 …your playing more games so more people have a chance to be injured….nfl has seened this by adding that extra spot for a injured player so they could come back so why not add few more players ..as far as running backs go they been playing for a few years now and the running games been down so some thing needs to be changed and that dont mean haveing a back come into new season and say well this year i plan to get in shape and do more for the team …that just means they coasted before just enough to stay on team …as far as dwyer goes he does show power when he wants to the prob is he dont always want too ….batch is just a fill in when lead runner needs a rest as far as redman goes he runs his heart out every play but he gives up on his blockers way to early and it effects his all over yardage but when he does get free he shows he has power and speed ..but how long can you keep starting players who just do enough to get by ..all it does is lead to where steelers are now in running game and coaches ones again saying who should we keep and play its time they start coaching and let the ones go who just do enough to get by .

  • Michael Mazanowski


  • Michael Mazanowski

    For twice I agree with ya! Lol!

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I know we’ve disagreed a lot in the past, but I 100% agree with your assessment of Batch. He is not fast. He is not powerful. He does not have good change of direction. He is not a good RB, plain and simple. Plus he’s injury prone (blowing ACL’s out in BOTH knees). He’s a decent blocker. But if all you want is a blocker, bring in another undersized TE. Or another LB. Either of those could play special teams as well if not better.

    I don’t hate Batch. I just think a back up RB should be able to actually run the ball when called upon. And Batch has never shown he can do that. I’d rather try to “teach” Dwyer to block, than try to “teach” Batch to run.

  • dgh57

    Batch was given but 25 carries(only 4 receptions) last year and that was with him healthy, Mendy missing the 1st part of the season and injuries to Dwyer & Redman! To me that tells me how they view him as a RB!! Now will this new outside zone scheme help his game? That’s what the preseason will determine. So if Batch wants a roster spot he’ll have to prove himself as a RB which is important if your running game needs improving(ranked 26th)! When it comes to injuries that 4th or 5th RB will need to be reliable enough to do the job as a RB!

  • TJimmy

    At this point it looks like Redman is at least winning by virtue of work ethic

  • Pete

    If you are right about Howling I’ll tip my hat to you. But I see him as the odd man out because he would have to show that he can contribute more than just as a KP returner. I can’t see the Steelers going back to the days of Stefan Logan and keeping a spot for a pure returner. He’s 5’7″, 180lbs. Unless you know that Tomiln is holding a spot for a KPR then I don’t think Howling can be considered a lock. Bell, by virtue of being a top pick is a lock. I’d also bet that Redman and Dwyer are locks unless they do something dumb. I see Batch and Howling fighting for the last spot.

  • Pete

    Agreed. LaRod is basically a one trick pony. He’s a kick/punt returner. That’s what he’s primarily done for 4 seasons. I see him battling with Batch for the last spot if they carry 4.

  • Robert Alaniz

    Batch is the odd man out guys. Dwyer isn’t going anywhere unless he comes to camp out of shape and worse than before he went to Florida.

    Howling is Todd’s boy. he can return punts and is a change of pace back or third down back. He possess a unique set of skills is what just came out of Todd’s mouth. You can line him up as a wide also in a pinch. They didnt bring him in to cut him, they brought him in to thrive in this offense and give it another weapon.

    I think Mcneal makes the practice squad.

  • dgh57

    I’m sorry, but LaRod is not a one trick pony and he has proven that! Last season he had 2 games with over 20 carries and 100 yards rushing each with over 5 ypc! Not bad for a guy his size. To me if it comes to LaRod or Batch its LaRod wins without a doubt!!

  • steves

    We need to wait until the end of training camp to make our decisions. Every year in camp a RB gets hurt and they are out for some time and during the year someone gets hurt. Let the backs battle it out in preseason and let camp make our decisions for us.