Steelers RB Jonathan Dwyer \”Weight-ing\” To Learn His 2013 Fate

By Jeremy Hritz

The drafting of Le’Veon Bell reinforced Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert’s statement early in the 2013 offseason that the running back position was one in need of improvement. After Bell’s selection, the assumption became that he would be the bell cow in the backfield at the start of the season. The other assumption was that fourth year back from Georgia Tech, Jonathan Dwyer, was as good as gone. Now, as two weeks of OTAs are in the books, some contradictory evidence has emerged as to what role, if any Dwyer will have with the Steelers in 2013.

The first report on Dywer from OTAs worth noting is that he appeared to be overweight, something that has drawn the ire of head coach Mike Tomlin in the past. If he is, in fact, once again overweight, he is definitely not making the impression needed to remain with the team. However, the other report from organized team activities is that Dwyer was taking the snaps with the first-team offense. While we cannot read too deeply into that, it does raise some questions regarding the veracity of the reports regarding Dwyer’s seemingly non-existent future with the team.

Dwyer is listed generously on the roster at 5’11, 229 pounds, and his stocky frame lent itself well to gaining some bruising yards last year. In back to back games last season against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Washington Redskins, Dwyer totaled 229 yards on 34 carries, averaging over six yards per carry. While his production did dip after those games, maybe more in part from injuries to the offensive line, he did provide a physical presence at the running back position; unfortunately, he could not sustain his success, and he did not eclipse the 100-yard mark again.

In his three years with the Steelers, Dwyer has totaled 774 yards on 181 carries and two touchdowns. At only 23 years old, one would have to believe that he still has much potential to continue to develop.

The current speculation is that Dwyer will be cut sometime before the end of training camp, and that the stable of backs heading into the season will be Bell, Isaac Redman, and LaRod Stephens-Howling. If the Steelers do go in this direction, Redman will be the only back with a history with the team, though that is not necessarily a negative.

The other argument surrounding cutting Dwyer is that he and Redman are similar backs, and that Redman has been more productive during his tenure with the Steelers. Redman also has demonstrated a penchant for grinding it out for the difficult yards that can light a fire under his team. His gritty, never-say-die running style is an intangible that can provide a spark to the offense. Conversely, Redman is nearly five years older than Dwyer and will turn 29 this coming November. This is something that the Steelers will have to take into consideration in their decision-making process.

The battle for roster spots at the running back position will be an interesting one to watch despite popular belief currently being that Dwyer will be on the outside looking in. Are the Steelers OK with a group of backs without experience with the team? Or will they surprise everybody and keep both Redman and Dwyer?

If the early reports on Dwyer’s weight are true, then his return is greatly in question.

  • SteelerDave

    I say trade Dwyer for whatever we can get or keep him and cut Redman. That choice likely goes down to how well Bell shows in camp.

  • alex

    the second week into OTAs and the information on the greatest NEED position for the Steelers is, he ‘appeared’ to be overwieight and ‘the other report form organized team activities is’…

    we probably know more about the lunch menu…

  • NW86

    I want to know who assumed that Bell was the immediate bell cow and Dwyer was as good as gone? I certainly didn’t, and still don’t. In fact, if I were going to “assume” anything, I would assume that Dwyer is penciled in as the starter unless someone beats him out in camp. He started the most games and was the leading rusher last year…

  • hergieburbur

    Hritz did, as he doesn’t really like Dwyer. He’s been very vocal about his disdain for the RBs in general and Dwyer in particular. He also has us “penciled in” to head into the season with only three RBs on the roster. Not happening.

  • Ryan Miller

    So many things can and probably will happen by now and the start of the season. We will definitely carry 4 backs. I think the big question is does what Batch contributes to the ST tough to replace with another guy from a different position, or does what Dwyer adds to the running game outweigh what Batch brings to ST. Although Dwyer and Redman will always be compared, I believe the roster spot battle comes down to Batch on ST vs Dwyer as a back.

  • Lamarr56

    He better show up because Redman has showed up in shape and ready to play.

  • zyzak

    Trade him? Who would want him?

  • zyzak

    Bradshaw on his way

  • Louis Goetz

    Well the Cardinals, of course. Arizona Steelers v2.0 need running backs, too.

  • Louis Goetz

    I don’t care if they showed up in shape. The biggest questions is: Are you in shape?

  • Matt Searls

    You forgot about batch

  • Shea Fahr

    I would hold onto all of them at least until the final cut as someone may get injured.

  • DoctorNoah

    I still think it’s Dwyer’s job to lose. Behind our porous line, both Dwyer, Mendy and Redman all had 100+ yard games, and only Mendy shows any vague burst of speed in the open field. Bell is undersized and completely unproven, even if he looks like the next coming of Steven Jackson to scouts. And Batch and Stephens-Howling are change of pace backs.

    Dwyer is cheap and younger than Redman, and no amount of trimming down in the off-season is going to make him run a 4.3 40- or even a 4.5 ( though apparently he did run 4.48 in high school when he was doing track).

    Steelers have done good things in the run game with fair to middling backs as far back as Bam Morris, Barry Foster and even Frank Pollard and Walter Abercrombie. Any of our backs would be a reasonable, if unexciting, starter, but only if the O-line makes holes for them. The run game this year will really be a reflection of the line, and less a reflection of the backs. There’s no Adrian Peterson or Ray Rice in sight, or even a Frank Gore. Bringing in Bradshaw with the turf toe ain’t going to make holes out of thin air.

    Step up, O-line, and let Dwyer eat however many twinkies he wants…

  • westcoasteeler

    Can’t ever like a player that isn’t motivated. Can’t do it.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Yeah, wtf? Dwyer has way more talent then Redman. I know both will cost a bit, but why on Earth would anyone assume one of them will be gone. Who’s gonna take their spot; Batch or LaRod? Gimme a break! Both of those guys are crap. I don’t care who plays special teams either.

  • sgtrobo

    He is also an inconsistent, lazy slob who consistently shows a lack of discipline, piss-poor conditioning, and a quitter’s attitude who asked to be removed from the game anytime he had to run the ball multiple times consecutively. He comes into camp overweight and out of shape at a position he has no business being fat and out of shape. Cut his lazy, slovenly ass. He takes his talent for granted and with the issues we’ve had with conditioning and injuries, someone who is as consistently lazy and undisciplined as Dwyer AND hasn’t shown a damn thing needs to find his walking papers.

  • Dan

    Yep…June speculations on things that will be decided in camp. Man this is a long off-season.

  • Guest

    Bell? Are talking about Le’veon Bell? At 6-1 or 2 and around 230 lbs, that is hardly undersized. Your talking about Mendy….hes not even on the team anymore.

  • Joe in Chicago

    Obviously the Steelers want Bell to eventually take over as the starting running back. Until that happens (or they sign someone else), I don’t see the Steelers releasing or trading Dwyer. You never know what’s going to happen with injuries during training camp and the preseason. It’s likely his will be Dwyer’s last year in Pittsburgh anyway. Use him while you have him.

  • Shea Fahr

    Totally agree.

  • Bradys_Dad

    Did I miss something or is Baron Batch’s name missing ? Is there any incentive cap wise to jettisoning Dwyer ?

  • mlc43

    wow…I love posts like this…always good for a laugh. Bell undersized? I couldn’t take anything serious after that.

  • Fu-Schnickens

    I still think that Dwyer, on top of being the younger guy, can get those tough yards more effectively and consitently than Redman. Not sure why so many folks have been lovin’ on Redman so much – he’s not really been all that good. Hopefully, Bell will make all of this a waste of time and we won’t need to worry about it any longer.

  • David McCune

    Both those guys are crap? They are in the NFL and yes the Steelers. Where did you play Chris. Your pathetic

  • Shea Fahr

    I totally agree with you, there is no reason why Dwyer cannot be an important offensive weapon this year. Bettis took a lot of beatings in his tenure from the media about showing up out of shape. From the pics I saw, Dwyer did not look out of shape to me…he looked like well, Dwyer.

  • steeltown

    Not sure we’d get much for him, he’s worth more on roster. Bell is unproven, Redman is injured every 2-3 games and Stephens-Howling is nothing more than a change of pace back and kick returner

  • steeltown

    I think you’re right.. Dwyer is the #1 guy until Bell beats him out.
    If its between Redman and Dwyer, its not even close in my eyes. Dwyer has way more upside, he is faster, he is 5yrs younger and he doesn’t have bad ankles like Redman

  • sgishusa

    If you view the video on from recent OTA’s you will see Dwyer looks heavy and out of shape. It’s something that caught my eye last week and not what you’d expect from someone fighting for a roster spot. I hope he turns it around and comes to Latrobe ready for action. The first sighting wasn’t impressive and we could use his talent.

  • charles

    Which back Redman or Dwyer can show better hands coming out of the backfield will be who Haley leans toward. If Dwyer came to camp overweight, Haley has already expressed frustration with his conditioning and that can’t help. Mr Redman coming in ten lbs. lighter surely will.

  • Robert Alaniz

    I disagree. I just looked at all the pics of Dwyer and while he is a bigger back, he doesn’t look out of shape. If he came in like that again, he would be gone already or definitely not running with the first team offense. I think we are actually in good shape with our running backs now however, the odd man out is probably going to be Batch with Mcneal making the practice squad at a minimum.

  • Rob

    Dwyer has not yet hit his goal weight but is working toward it ( according to Dwyer in an interview). At this point we have 3 backs that have displayed power, Redmond, Dwyer, and Bell(in college). I think we keep those three as the offense does not need to change much depending on which one is in. Howling and Batch are fighting for the last spot at this point I think.

    With the possibility of injuries that exists it is not unreasonable to expect all three to see playing time this year and it would be good to keep them. Howling was released by zona and they grabbed up spindenfall right away. Makes me think he can at best be a situational rusher only and possibly a camp body. Batch maybe our fourth back or could be replaced when the cut downs start and we pick up a late free agent.