This offseason has been a whirlwind of ups and downs. Familiar faces returning home, new faces making a new home, and formerly bitter rivals making fresh starts. I do not remember an offseason which brought about as many question marks as this offseason has. We have changeover all over the field, and there are a few battles that I'll be keeping a close eye on (real close, from my home, 386 miles away). Let's take a look at a few.
Halfback #2 and #3: A Fatal Fourway
Tale of the Tape:
Jonathan Dwyer: 5'11"/ 229 lbs./ 21 years old. Rookie, 6th round (188th overall)
Isaac Redman: 6'0"/ 230 lbs./ 25 years old. 2ndyear pro, both with Steelers (one active game, practice squad)
Stefan Logan: 5'6"/ 180 lbs./ 29 years old. 2ndyear (NFL) pro, both with Steelers
Past Player Roles:
Mewelde Moore, who was the first "Tomlin Guy" brought in from Minnesota shortly after Tomlin's hire, has played both supportive, and feature roles in our offense. Two seasons ago Mewelde filled in as a starter on an injury depleted group, playing in 16 games and a starter in 4, he finished the year with a solid 588 yards on 140 carries (4.20 yards per carry) and 320 receiving yards on 40 catches (8 yards per catch) totaling 6 touchdowns in the process.
Since then, he has played the third down role, playing our version of Kevin Faulk, making the timely plays, whether it be a catch, run, or block. As such, he's seen less touches, last year only gaining 118 yards on the ground and 153 yards through the air receiving. I say receiving because he also threw his second career touchdown, on just four attempts (a sparkling career passer rating of 105.2).
Jonathan Dwyer comes in to Pittsburgh a potential steal, after slipping in the draft from what some projected to be a second round pick, to falling to the Steelers late in the sixth. Possessing good size, and adequate speed, there are high hopes for what we may see out of Dwyer. In college, he compiled 3,226 yards rushing on 517 chances in his three years at Georgia Tech, scoring 35 TD's. While playing fullback in their triple option offensive attack, he averaged 6.2 yards per rush, while winning ACC Player of The Year in 2008. Due to offensive scheme, Dwyer saw few receiving chances, only totaling 15 catches throughout his time spent as a Yellow Jacket.
Isaac Redman left Bowie State their all time leading rusher, racking up 3,300 yards while in Bowie, MD. He also set BSU Records in Single Game Rushing Yards (218 vs. Livingstone - 10/6/2007), Rushing Attempts (37 vs. Tuskegee), Single Season Rushing Attempts (281), Longest Run from Scrimmage (99 yards vs. Morgan State) and Single Season Rushing yards (1,512). He had a few of the most impressive Youtube Highlight Clips I've ever seen, which can be seen here (Part One, Two, and Three) for anyone new to his greatness. "Redzone" saw no regular season action, but was active for one game, garnering several "Where's Redman?" hollers in my house, despite a great performance in his first start by Rashard Mendenhall. Pre Seasoon will be his chance to prove he deserves his roster spot this year, but camp is where legends are made, and no legend compares to the Isaac Redman.
Stefan Logan came out of essentially nowhere last year, after a standout season north of the border with the British Columbia Lions of the CFL. His main role last season was return specialist, and was actually listed as a WR (of Hypocloid Fame). His position officially went back to HB this year, and his skills as an elusive runner with good hands could be the complimentary role the Steelers need at HB this year. Though small in stature, the success of other diminutive running backs in the NFL provides promise for Stefan, and what he can do out of the backfield this year.
I expect Mewelde Moore to have a good showing this year, as he's entering free agency after this season. Contract years have a way of bringing out the best in players, and factoring that in with a possible larger role offensively, Mewelde will have every opportunity to take this second HB role.
Dwyer will provide enough competition to keep this interesting, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him win the job outright. He looks like he could be the better pure runner, who has youth and potential on his side. The question is is he versatile enough to be more than a ball carrier. Can he pick up blocking schemes, can he catch the ball, does he have all the tools?
Redman will be fun to watch. He showed some real promise last year as a short yardage back, who excelled in goal line packages. He will be hungry. He watched from the sidelines last year as we struggled mightily on the ground, and I'm sure that lit a fire under him to prove he can be the guy to turn that around for us.
Logan will get his shot to return kicks again, but I'm interested to see what he can do as a runner. If his speed, elusiveness, and hands are highlighted out of the backfield, his skillset could be a great compliment to what we have now in Mendenhall, Moore, Dwyer and Redman. Of all of our backs, he has the one thing we may need most, speed.
With the starting job locked up, it will really come down to who provides the intangibles we need from our accessory back. Will we want Moore's savvy, Dwyer's potential, Redman's power, or Logan's speed and flash? Soon we will know. With the renewed emphasis on the run this year, one thing is for sure, we will need one or two of these guys to step their game up. We will need as many able bodies out of the halfback position as possible to get us over the hump we will have early on, with no Super Bowl winning QB under center.