Kovacevic: Dwyer on tap? Not a bad thing
LANDOVER, Md. — If this preseason is proving anything for these some-old, some-new Steelers, it's that a script is spectacularly useless.
That Todd Haley plan to keep Ben Roethlisberger safe?Ha! He was dodging and ducking defenders like it was mid-December in Baltimore.
Jarvis Jones as second-team linebacker behind Jason Worilds?
Not after another forced fumble by the first-round pick who Ike Taylor this week called “Ballhawk.”
Offensive line as a strength?
Le'Veon Bell as feature back?
Not anymore. Bank on it. Not after a left knee has hobbled him throughout camp, only to have his right foot knock him out after one series of the 24-13 loss to the Redskins on Monday night at FedEx Field.
Jonathan Dwyer buried on the backs' depth chart behind Bell, Isaac Redman, maybe even Baron Batch because of special teams?
Scratch that, too, and do it in indelible ink: Dwyer rushed for 68 yards on 14 carries, caught two passes for 12 yards, generally acquitted himself in all other areas and, no, never once tapped himself out.
“I thought he did a great job, both in the running and passing game,” Roethlisberger was saying on a night on which there was scant reason to applaud either. “That's why, when people talk about our running backs … I've felt all along we've got a whole bunch who can do some great things.”
Mike Tomlin was complimentary, too, albeit with a predictable point to Dwyer's fumble that was his only blemish.
“He did some good things,” the coach said. “Obviously putting the ball on the ground doesn't help him or us. But he had his moments.”
Bet on there being more.
Dwyer's been my pick to click all summer, and I'm sticking by him even though he ticked off Tomlin by taking too long to get into prime shape, even though Redman should still play when he's back from a pinched nerve, even though Bell should still come with high expectations and, yeah, even though it took both those guys plus LaRod Stephens-Howling plus Batch going down with injuries for Dwyer to get this chance.
Oh, well. Can't play if you can't play.
Tomlin's already stretched his own standard — which is saying something considering that the standard is, in fact, the standard — by promoting Bell to first team even though he couldn't play in the preseason opener. And the elastic found new length when Bell missed more practices this week but still was first on the field Monday.
Enough's enough. No way the kid will be ready for Tennessee.
Besides, it should at least be considered that Dwyer might be the best option.
Absolutely, it was lousy last season that he seemed to gasp in the direction of the sideline after every other carry. But he knew it. And he reacted — even if late — by reporting to Latrobe lighter, faster and, by his estimation, more than ready to snap the tap.
“You won't see that anymore,” Dwyer vowed early in camp.
So all Dwyer had to do once Bell was felled was to back it up. One carry was a 23-yard burst through tackle that stressed what he does best: Find the hole and hit it unflinchingly. Another was a 14-yard dash around end, a dimension Haley is eager to add to the rushing game and that, maybe, a lighter Dwyer can deliver on occasion.
“It felt good,” Dwyer said. “I was supposed to split the first half with Le'Veon, and I wasn't going to play the third quarter until Baron got hurt. But I had fun. And I did what I had to do, which was step up for my team.”
What's not to like?
For all the grief Dwyer took after last season, he also had back-to-back 100-yard performances in October and wound up with a team-best 637 yards.
He's 24, only three years older than Bell, and eminently deserving of a longer look.
If he changes the script for the better, so be it.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins call up prized defensive prospect Pouliot
- Pittsburgh police break up customer fights over Air Jordan 11 shoes
- Undersized Beachum quietly excels at 1 of game’s pivotal positions
- Penguins’ defensive depth proves valuable
- Michigan State defensive coordinator a Pitt coaching candidate
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu, Taylor unlikely to play, Harrison ‘ready’
- Pitt: Football coach hire comes 1st, athletic director 2nd
- Pitt’s acting athletic director is deft facilitator
- Man involved with crash with officer dies in Pittsburgh hospital
- Ex-juvenile center director claims he was fired because he’s black
- Environmental teachers glean new ideas from networking