Steelers Giving All Three Running Backs First-Team Reps This Week In Practice

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.

  • Rob H

    I still can’t believe someone as good as Velasco was even available, we were really lucky to get him, obviously he’s not as good as Pouncey, but he’s good enough that, if the young guys can just begin to play up to their draft status, we can still have a good line. That being said, you can’t play a center that doesn’t fully know the sight adjustment calls/verbiage. Getting Will Johnson back should help a LOT, but I think it’s going to be another week before we get Velasco set at center, and Beachum back to where he can best help as the TE/6th O-lineman.

  • JPDQ

    I think there’s a good chance that Velasco is probably every bit as good as Pouncey is, actually. And I also think there should be no reason he couldn’t be acclimated enough to start on Sunday. That’s more Tomlin crap. Velasco said himself the schemes he ran in TN are similar, it’s just a verbiage issue. Obviously, Beachum’s value to us is more as a swing lineman, since we have zero depth there. Even if Velasco screws up a call or two during the game, it’s probably still gonna be fewer times than Beachum will get beat starting at center.

  • JPDQ

    We’re in a fine mess once again with our RBs. You know Tomlin will probably give each guy 7-10 carries, no one will have any rhythm, and we’ll combine for about 85 yards rushing. And this will continue more or less until somebody else gets hurt and we stick a guy in there as a “starter” out of necessity rather than skill.

    It’s just ugly. I don’t know what we’re gonna do, cause every team in the league knows we can’t run the football w/ the line playing the way it is. So force Ben to beat you with the pass w/ no Heath Miller and it’s a pretty ugly proposition.

    Good luck, guys. Hope you have our boys ready to play defense, Lebeau. It’s our only shot.

  • steeltown

    At this point (sadly enough) I’d take 85yds rushing.. that would be nearly 3x as much as last weeks performance

  • steeltown

    Eventually we’ll have Velasco out there, Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell will return and of course Will Johnson is returning this week, Felix joins will soon be acclimated.. we could more formidable than people are expecting

    Just need to keep Ben upright!! This season rises and falls with the OLine

  • srdan

    JPDQ well said. People that watch Pouncey notice the yearly drop off in play. Can’t argue his brilliance his rookie season, but I haven’t seen anything from him since then. Actually last year when he played guard, he played great. Seems to be more natural if you ask me.

    And it’s not because we have seen some amazing centers over the years that I am stuck comparing them. I’m simply calling a spade a spade. I think it’s injuries and lack of drive.

  • JPDQ

    You mean you’re not standing in your seat, jumping up and down for three solid hours screaming “Maur-KICE, Maur-KICE, Maur-KICE!!!”?

    Ha. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  • srdan

    Hahha I wasn’t born here and my parent’s didn’t quite understand how to “cheer” for their kids when we first moved here. My sister and I both played high school Bball. To say the least I get my screaming ways from them. But they would go to our basketball games and scream “OFFENSE, OFFENSE” and then “DEFENSE, DEFENSE”. The entire game. Sooooo embarrassing as a teenager. But looking back, it was awesome!.

    Don’t put it past me that if he plays like he did his rookie year!!

  • edward gill

    Most of these so called steeler fans calling for the head coach to be fired,hes not on the field playing.I hear, get coach Cowher,he quit on us.It’s the players continued errors.

  • 2443scott

    just remember everyone that everyone else in division lost too …..weither we lost by one point or 200 so did all others remember as steeler fans we are here to pick the steelers up and get them ready for next game not help the other teams with talk about being a bad team and cant do this or that ….they read this stuff and effects their play …..its ok to question the calls and how teams coached but dont dish and put down the team as a whole .

  • Steeler Wheeler

    85 yards on the ground gives Steelers a chance to win this game. 30 yards, not so likely.

  • Mike Carroll

    I agree there are a lot of reasons to think the offense will improve. I like the Velasco pickup and Will Johnson’s return will help. But, I’m concerned that Heath Miller is not going to be the same player when he returns, at least for a few games, if not most of the season.

    As you say, the season depends on the OLine. They need to show improvement from now to the end of the year, but I think that is a somewhat reasonable expectation. Also, still can’t wait to see what Bell can do.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    What are they, 5 years old? Dudes, O-lineman especially, get your big, fat A$$es out there and actually block somebody…You are not getting paid to suck. How’s that for a pep talk?

    Wait, wait…the formula is five positive comments for every negative…OK Marcus Gilbert…You made a lot of money for those sacks you allowed…Hey David DeCastro, that dive at Maurkice Pouncey’s knee was a stroke of genius, in one moment you increased your chances of being the Steelers #1 lineman. Hey Adams, when you don’t have a clue who to block it’s perfectly OK to stand still…you look good in that uniform and you didn’t hurt anyone else…Hey Todd Haley, maybe we can now get a smaller change of pace back…I love it when a guy like LSH really changes the pace of the LB who is moments away from running him right the flip over! Hey Emmanual Sanders, if you were on the Pats you’d be dropping like 6-8 balls a game, here you get less chances to look like Limas Sweed. OK guys, there’s your positives, many of you really sucked Sunday and I expect much better play.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    The case of Jones. It have became very clear that Todd Haley is playing with favoritism. Dick lebeau is an exceptional with Jarvis Jones, as he is clearly the future of our defense with Timmons and maybe Cortez Allen. My problem right now is that I see Kevin Colbert making necessary moves with FAs and Todd Haley isn’t even using/utilitizing them. Its obviously that Haley like Stephen-Howlings and Felix Jones much more, while I have no problem with that but they try to use them as how we used to play Dwyer and Redman. Do not be surprised if Dwyer AND Redman both are gone by next season.

    I’m rather upset with Haley, his treatment, mismanagement, and schemes. His ego costed us several games already, time to stick to ONE RB or split up the style of schemes if that makes sense.

  • Luke Shabro

    I agree with you wholeheartedly and it’s beyond discouraging how Tomlin has managed the run game, or lack thereof. I still feel like Ben is a top 5 QB but what is it about him that he can’t thrive without a running game like Manning, Rodgers and Brady? Pats had a good running game last year but before that it was atrocious. Manning has had literally nothing since Edgerinn James and the best Rodgers ever had was Ryan Grant.

  • Luke Shabro

    Maybe I’ll be eating my words on Tues morning but, could it possibly be any worse than last week? In terms of ineptitude? I guess we could’ve committed even more turnovers.

  • steeltown

    No we have nowhere to go but up.. although Its tough to see the OLine playing much better THIS week being that they’ll be facing one of the best DL in the League, but I noticed a lot of the OL deficiencies were mental errors.. those can be corrected

  • Eric

    85 yards is OK? When did the standard stop being the standard?

  • Luke Shabro

    I really think the best thing we could is go no huddle on them. I know Haley won’t allow it much but they should. Gas the D line, don’t let them change out personnel and the fast tempo could cover up some blemishes on the O line. And we all know Ben does best on the fly. Brandon Johnson and Robert Geathers don’t scare me much. Geno Atkins does. If Velasco is in I think he handles Demato Peko pretty well. Atkins on DeCastro ehhhh could be a push with a sack and/or some pressures. Atkins on Foster. Uh oh. I honestly don’t know if Geno usually lines up closer to the left or right guard.

  • steeltown

    Never said it was “OK”…only that compared to last week I’d take it, especially against the Cincinnati DLine

  • HopalongCassidy

    While the running backs are not great, I doubt Barry Sanders could have run behind this O-line. To expect that guys who have never shown any ability in the past to now become great is pure fantasy. The Steelers can not win with the current O-line and I am sad to say that but reality is reality. Ben will be lucky to play the entire season as I see him getting hurt again.

  • Harold Hal Bubby Wright

    Listen steeler fans until the idiot Haley fixes his offense to mirror
    ouyr former OC Bruce A. the Steelers will not have a consistent running
    game! Furthermore since Dwyer has got in shape he is the best running
    back on the roster to include Bell. Whom ever is hold him from playing
    is adding to the Steelers demise! Dwyer can hit the holes quicker and
    take the corners faster than any running back on the roster. How can u
    cut a running back who was the team leading rusher last year and this
    preseason? Please dont say because he fumbled the ball! A.Peterson ,A.
    Foster,L. McCoy fumbles,but the coach puts them back in the game and
    they learn from it! Now enough about Dwyer,now for haleys offense,the
    proof that his 2 and 3 wide reciever set dont work is in the production
    of the offense! the offensive line has sucked for years even in the last
    super bowl year the steelers had,but the difference was Bruce A’s 4 and
    5 reciever sets on offense. Bruce A knew that defences could not match
    up against those sets. Most teams dont have that many DB’s to cover the 4
    and 5 wide reciever sets. Since those sets were so sucessful it opened
    up the running game,because he ran out of those sets too! Just google
    the steelers Offense under Bruce A and you wil see that the running
    backs and wide recievers had lots of yards with our so called bad
    offensive line. Haleys Offense is old it doesnt fit todays game! He
    needs to start running the 4 and 5 wide reciever sets to move the ball
    and that will open up the running game with Dwyer leading the pack. I
    hope bell pans out but I think from watching him at MS that he is too
    soft! I hope im wrong about Bell! I thought we should have picked Ball
    or that Knies kid that the Chief picked. Redman is to SLOW,Wil Johnson
    can do his Job and he looks faster than Redman! The Steelers coaches to
    include Tomlin need to stop playing favorites and put the best players
    on the field! Hurry and get William Gay off the field! Ever heard of
    Steven Ridley,well I didnt either until he got almost 1300 rushing yards
    last year,why you ask because New England ran 4 and 5 wide reciever

  • Riverstko

    We need all three of the backs to get carries…. earth wind and fire like we had few years ago, Bus Duece Willie Parker days. Positive results will come in the running game. With Velasco the oline should improve. For some reason pouncey didnt look ready this year he looked lazy and slow in preseason.