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MIRZA ZUKIC: Parting ways with Dwyer was a gamble for Steelers

by on September 08, 2013 1:50 AM

A week has passed since the final roster cuts were announced across the NFL, signaling the start of the regular season, and I still believe getting rid of running back Jonathan Dwyer was a gamble by the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.

No, he was never going to develop into Barry Sanders, or even Jerome Bettis for that matter. And yes, he has shown to be fumble-prone in his time in the NFL, including this preseason (two fumbles in 34 carries).

In fact, Dwyer probably wouldn’t have started for the Steelers this season even if he made the team. He would have still played second fiddle to Isaac Redman.

But Dwyer was also the healthiest back in a banged up backfield, and the Steelers should have kept him as an insurance policy at the very least.

Think about it, folks.

Isaac Redman hasn’t played since the first preseason game, in which he had two carries. He said this week that was enough preparation for him.

“Yeah, it’ll be enough,” he said. “I plan on going out there and doing what I do.”

No offense to Redman, but just what is that?

We’re not talking about a proven NFL running back who can carry an offense.

If the Steelers are counting on him to carry the load this season, they might be in for a rude awakening. Redman has played in 46 of the Steelers’ 48 games over the past three seasons, but that doesn’t necessarily show durability. He has never received more than 110 carries in a season.

As a starter, he will be expected to shoulder at least 15-plus carries a game. We’ll see if he holds up.

“Getting 20-25 carries ... I don’t think it will be a problem for me,” he said. “I’ve been in tip-top shape since March, so I don’t think that’s a problem.”

Recently acquired Felix Jones has looked good in his two preseason games with the Steelers.

But you know what? Jones carries the label of a first-round bust, and until he proves otherwise, that’s just what he is in my eyes.

As most Steelers players said when asked last week, Dwyer’s release was strictly a business move, nothing personal.

But in the business world, they also ask ‘What have you done for me lately?’ We’ll see how long before the Steelers start asking Jones the same question.

And of course, promising youngster Le’Veon Bell and offseason acquisition LaRod Stephens-Howling were cheaper options for the Steelers than Dwyer, who was going to be owed some $1.3 million this season.

But Dwyer was a healthy, durable body, and the Steelers don’t have enough of those at the moment.

So if injuries pile up — as they tend to do in the NFL — and offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum and tight end David Johnson are carrying the ball late in the season, remember the Steelers cut a perfectly healthy and pretty productive Jonathan Dwyer, Steeler Nation.

Mirza Zukic is in his third season covering the Steelers for The Indiana Gazette.

Mirza Zukic is a sports writer that primarily covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and is the Gazette's track and field beat writer.
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