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Steelers' Dwyer intent on losing weight, increasing role

Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Steelers runningback Jonathan Dwyer fends off Titans' defender Cortland Finnegan en route to a 76-yard gain during second quarter action at Heinz Field Sunday, October 7, 2011.

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Running men

The Steelers' backfield will go into training camp having only one player with more than 100 carries last season:

Player Att Yds Avg Long TD

*Rashard Mendenhall 228 928 4.1 68 9

Isaac Redman 110 479 4.4 27 3

Jonathan Dwyer 16 123 7.7 76 0

John Clay 10 41 4.1 10 1

#Baron Batch 0 0 0 0 0

^Chris Rainey 0 0 0 0 0

*Tore ACL on Jan. 1, will start season on physically unable to perform list

#Missed season with ACL tear

^Rookie

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Monday, July 2, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

Jonathan Dwyer was projected as a top 30 prospect before the NFL Combine in 2010. After the combine, his stock plummeted as questions about his weight and conditioning arose.

It cost him six rounds in the draft.

A year later, Dwyer arrived at training camp 20 pounds overweight and found himself in coach Mike Tomlin's doghouse. He was inactive for the first four games.

Dwyer isn't about to let his weight cost him another opportunity — arguably the biggest of his life.

Dwyer is set to be the backup running back to Isaac Redman when the Steelers start the season Sept. 9 in Denver. That is, if he comes into training camp in shape.

“I am pretty sure he has gotten it now,” Redman said. “I feel a light bulb went off in his head, and he is going to come to camp ready to go.”

Dwyer's actions are saying the same.

Prodded by two of the NFL's best running backs in Maurice Jones-Drew and Matt Forte — they share the same agent — Dwyer will spend the next four weeks in North Miami Beach, Fla., at Pete Bommarito Performance Systems ensuring he will arrive at St. Vincent College on July 25 in the best shape of his life.

“They asked me to come down, and I see how successful they are and how the training is and felt it was a good idea,” Dwyer said. “I thought to myself that I would be a fool not to go train down there with them.”

LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, Ahmad Bradshaw and Jonathan Stewart also work out with Bommarito. So do some of Dwyer's teammates, including Antonio Brown and Lawrence Timmons.

“I am just realizing how much it takes to get where you are in this league and how hard you have to work and push yourself,” Dwyer said. “This is my year to prove something to myself, the league, to the organization, that I am worth more than what I was.”

Dwyer started workouts this week and will remain in Florida until the day before camp.

“I know if I come in at the weight I am supposed to be, I will be OK,” Dwyer said. “It is not anybody else's responsibility to come into camp in shape. It is mine.”

Dwyer fought to get into shape during training camp last year. He showed up at 240 pounds, did not finish Tomlin's opening-day “condition evaluation” and quickly found him taking part in the coach's mandated 7 a.m. workouts.

Dwyer lost 20 pounds, made the team and contributed a few weeks later. Playing because of injuries to Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore, he rushed for 107 yards, including a 76-yard run in a 38-17 win over Tennessee.

“I think I showed a little of what I am capable of doing,” Dwyer said. “Now it is about showing the consistency.”

With Mendenhall likely out until midway through the season because of an ACL injury, the Steelers need depth.

“Dwyer has all the talent in the world,” Redman said. “He can run the ball; he can block; he can catch out of the backfield. With him, it is all about him being able to come to camp in shape.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mkaboly@tribweb.com.

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