Steelers' Jonathan Dwyer has competition with other backs and his backside

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Dwyer led the Steelers in rushing in 2012. His reward? A one year contract, two new running backs and the ever-expanding concern of his waistline.

What did Steelers running back Jonathan Dwyer do?

Despite leading the team in rushing in 2012, he gets the dubious honor of having been the lowest single-season rushing leader since Merril Hoge in 1991.

He signed his $1.3 million tender offer nearly as soon as it arrived - well ahead of fellow running back Isaac Redman - and he was rewarded by the Steelers signing RB LaRod Stephens Howling just a few hours before drafting Le'Veon Bell in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Once dubbed the underdog late round pick, he's been filed into the doghouse, presumably left to fight for the scraps big dog Bell won't eat.

Certainly, circumstantial situations like Bell being available in the second round, or Stephens-Howling's availability along with the Steelers' need for a return man exist. These things are out of Dwyer's control. Still, signing his tender early suggests strongly he cares little for draft picks, and he's determined to show his peak mix of experience and talent is too much for Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley to ignore.

That part is understood. Dwyer will have to show the results behind the rhetoric. The Steelers begin their second round of three OTA practices today in Pittsburgh. Perhaps no position can be fairly judged without contact, but the running backs more than anyone else will be subjected to the Eye Test.

As in, "H-Eye, Jonathan, please step on the scale."

Dwyer has had issues with his weight in the past, and there are fewer concerns that carry a higher need to prepare adequate insurance than a running back who spends more time at the buffet through than the treadmill. The discipline one needs to maintain peak fitness, especially when faced with a younger competitor, will be as important to Dwyer's viability as a contributor this year as his performance in OTAs or training camp.

So if he signed his RFA tender early, good for him. He'd get bonus points if he did it between running hills and a date with the squat rack.

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