It was a promising preseason for third-year running back Jonathan Dwyer. The former sixth-round pick ran balanced and controlled, and looked difficult to take down on first contact.
As it turns out defenses get better in the regular season.
Helping ease the loss of Rashard Mendenhall in the Steelers' first three games, Dwyer rushed 24 times for 70 yards (2.9 yards per carry) and failed to score a touchdown. Some of that could be blamed on injury, as he wasn't active for the last two games and was hurt before that.
It appears as if he could get another shot Sunday as the Steelers take on Cincinnati in their first AFC North game - by many standards, a must-win game for the 2-3 Steelers.
The Bengals are allowing 116.8 rushing yards per game - 21st in the NFL. Certainly, to this point in the season, teams have improved their overall rushing defense statistics against Pittsburgh. Cincinnati was 10th in the league against the run a season ago, and haven't quite hit their stride yet.
Mendenhall is nursing an Achilles injury, which isn't said to be significant, but is still probably enough to limit his carries Sunday. He's only a handful of carries into his comeback attempt off knee surgery, and the new injury could have stemmed from activity twice in five days (the Steelers played Thursday Night in Week 6).
Baron Batch dressed in place of Dwyer over the last two games. He did lead the Steelers with 22 rushing yards on 10 carries against a Titans run defense ranked in the bottom third of the NFL. He scored his first career touchdown, though.