When the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night, it's anybody's guess as to who will get the lion's share of the carries during the game, as it appears as though all three running backs are getting work with the first-team offense throughout the week in practice.
According to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Felix Jones received a lot of reps Thursday with the starting offense.
"I am trying to get the plays down and learn the situation and be ready for those," Jones said.
During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin said Isaac Redman would get a chance to redeem himself against the Bengals after fumbling twice and rushing for just eight yards on seven carries in the season opener against the Tennessee Titans.
On Wednesday, Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network reported on Twitter that Jonathan Dwyer, who was just re-signed on Monday, received first-team reps.
During his talk with the media Thursday, offensive coordinator Todd Haley was asked if there will be a committee approach to the running backs against the Bengals Monday night or if Redman, the perceived starter, will get the bulk of the carries.
"As the week goes on we’re still working through that," said Haley. "We need Isaac to bounce back and play a better game. He didn’t play his best game, along with really all of us. We didn’t coach our best game. Everybody has got to bounce back and play better football, and better things will happen."
As for Jones, who has now had a few weeks to get acclimated to the playbook after arriving in Pittsburgh via a trade during the preseason, Haley said he's making progress every single day.
"We’ve just got to keep getting him ready to play, so when he gets the opportunity he can make things happen," Haley said.
Regardless of who starts and who gets the most carries, the Steelers running game must improve quickly. It looks as though the team will get back fullback Will Johnson this week and if new center Fernando Velasco can master the playbook and verbiage by game-time, perhaps he will start so Kelvin Beachum can go back to playing tight end.
"I think the best scenario would be the best guy plays," Haley said when asked what the ideal scenario would be this week at center against the Bengals. "The guy that plays center is the best guy playing center for us. I wouldn’t think or look past that to work towards another position. We’ve got to get both guys ready to go, like I said. Every day counts."
What will count the most Monday night is the Steelers being able to run for at least double what they did last Sunday against the Titans and hopefully three times that.