The Steelers are giving Jonathan Dwyer an opportunity to be their featured back, a significant move that marks the demotion of Rashard Mendenhall down the depth chart. However, whether Dwyer can hold onto the job remains to be seen.
The Steelers want a featured runner to emerge, but it hasn’t happened for reasons of injury and inconsistency. The Steelers’ Week 12 loss to Cleveland was memorable for the collective struggles of the RB corps (49 yards, four lost fumbles) and the shuttling in and out of the backs as the club searched in vain for the right fit.
While Dwyer has been the most productive of the Steelers’ backs, he, too, has underwhelmed at times, so if he is to get a stranglehold on the job, he will have to earn it.
Mendenhall has had a tough season, with knee and Achilles injuries causing him to miss time and two fumbles landing him on the sideline at Cleveland. With his contract up at season’s end, Mendenhall’s future in Pittsburgh is rather uncertain. The prospect of Mendenhall getting another chance in 2012 can't be completely counted out, what with the Steelers' RB situation still a fluid one, but there is no doubting the signficance of Dwyer's ascension at his expense.