GAINESVILLE, FL - APRIL 10: Running back Chris Rainey #3 of the Florida Gators signs autographs for fans before the Orange & Blue game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on April 10, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Admittedly, the running backs are in for a "one vs. all" battle, and breaking them out individually is a bit convenient. But given the similar skill sets of both RB Baron Batch and RB Chris Rainey, it's hard not to compare the two.
That's a good thing for each of them.
With starter Isaac Redman clearly established as the starter while RB Rashard Mendenhall rehabs a torn ACL suffered in January, the depth of the Steelers' backfield will be challenged. Neither Batch nor Rainey can boast the same all-around skill set as Mendenhall, but they have excellent speed, good hands and both have as good a chance as any to make this roster.
Rainey could have an advantage going into camp due to his kick return ability - something he did at a high level while at the University of Florida. What the 2012 5th round pick lacks in size he makes up with his speed, but more specifically, he's a decisive player - his cut-backs on kick-offs show purpose and a willingness to take a hit if it means a chance to get outside and get fast.
Batch, a training camp phenom a year ago before an ACL tear of his own derailed the season, has drawn praise already from offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Batch may be behind Rainey in terms of speed, but he's a little bit bigger and has already shown Steelers coach Mike Tomlin he's a willing football player.
Considering Haley had a running back catch at least 40 passes in each of the two and a half seasons in Kansas City, where he was the head coach, it stands to reason having more than one back who can leverage speed with hands to become a multi-purpose weapon.
It's fully possible both of these players make the team in 2012, but if it came down to the two of them, the question would be answered based on what Rainey shows in the return game.