Jonathan Dwyer will start at RB Sunday when the Steelers face the Ravens in Baltimore, coach Mike Tomlin announced.
Tomlin cited Dwyer’s consistency as the reason he officially has been named the starter. The coach said Dwyer is also the Steelers’ most healthy running back at the position.
“He’s been regularly the most productive guy. I think we’ve got a large enough body of work to be able to identify that at this point,” Tomlin recounted. “Obviously, we have been working at less than ideal circumstances with the rotation and the shuffling of those guys due to health and absence of production. But during the course of the last one or two weeks, it is obvious that he is healthy and he is the most productive of the group.”
Tomlin further said that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has missed the previous 2 games with shoulder and rib injuries, threw the ball Monday, and the team will “leave the door open” for him to play.
Roethlisberger has a 50-50 likelihood of playing Sunday against the Baltimore, a team source claimed.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have dropped both games Roethlisberger has missed, including a 13-10 loss to the Ravens in Pittsburgh 2 weeks ago. Byron Leftwich started in that game, but missed Sunday’s 20-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns with a rib injury. Charlie Batch started against the Browns and threw 3 costly interceptions.
Tomlin announced Batch would get snaps with the 1st-team offense early in the week.
At 6-5, the Pittsburgh Steelers trail the first-place Ravens (9-2) by three games.
Longtime starter Rashard Mendenhall fumbled twice against the Browns, losing the ball once. Dwyer and fellow running backs Chris Rainey and Isaac Redman also lost fumbles. In all, the Steelers turned the ball over 8 times.
Tomlin on declared that turnovers were “unacceptable.”
Dwyer leads the Steelers in rushing with 429 yards in 8 games. The Steelers have used a rotation at the position this season largely due to the health of Mendenhall, who had offseason surgery on his ACL and hurt his Achilles after he returned.
Tomlin further said that WR Antonio Brown is expected to play, and he’s “encouraged” by safety Troy Polamalu’s progress from a right calf injury.
Polamalu has played just 5 quarters all season after hurting the calf in the opener at Denver and worsening the injury Oct. 7 against the Eagles. Brown has missed the previous 3 games after injuring his ankle in a victory Nov. 4 over the N.Y Giants.
Brown’s return will be welcomed as Mike Wallace, a pro Bowler a year ago, is struggling. He had only one catch against the Browns and couldn’t keep hold of a pass that turned into one of Batch’s 3 interceptions.
Tomlin allowed Wallace is struggling and there’s a possible demotion in the works. Wallace has started 41 of Pittsburgh’s last 43 games, but the team listed as either Wallace or Emmanuel Sanders as the starter alongside Brown in the depth chart released Tuesday. Football odds
First-round draft choice David DeCastro, in the meantime, is looking good to make his NFL debut against the Ravens. The offensive guard suffered a knee injury in the preseason and was activated Monday.