Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin announced today in his weekly press conference that rookie 6th round draft pick running back Jonathan Dwyer is doubtful to play Saturday night versus the Giants with a shoulder injury he suffered against Detroit last week. Dwyer has not participated in the hitting portions of practice this week and continues to miss valuable practice time in the process. This is the second injury since camp started for Dwyer, who by all reports was a little out of shape upon arriving at Latrobe. Dwyer first battled a hamstring strain right as camp started and was just getting back in the flow when he hurt his shoulder last week.
Dwyer is no longer battling for a spot on the 53 man roster, but is now in jeopardy of not even being healthy enough to make the practice squad. If Dwyer can not get back healthy in the next couple of weeks, the Steelers might place him on the reserve PUP list or even on injured reserve. Both of those situations are extreme, but all players on the practice squad need to be able to contribute. When asked about Dwyer on Thursday, Tomlin said, “The reality is that he’s not on the field so he’s not helping himself.”
As it looks right now the Steelers will likely only carry 3 running backs and one fullback when the season starts. Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman are all locks at that running back spot and the Dwyer injury certainly helps the chances of Frank Summers getting the fullback spot. The Steelers could also watch the final cut down transaction wire to see if any running back peaks their interest. The name of Willie Parker continues to surface should he be released from the Redskins, but Ed Bouchette reported a few days ago that sources told him the Steelers have no interest in bringing back Parker, so that should end that speculation.
Everyone knows Dwyer can run North and South, but the knock on him is the other things that go along with being a complete running back in the NFL. The best thing for Dwyer right now is to spend a full year on the practice squad and give it another shot next year in camp. Dwyer goes by the nickname of Diesel, but for now it appears he needs a serious tune-up. The Steelers have a perfect mechanic in running backs coach Kirby Wilson and I think he can get the Diesel running on all cylinders by mid season or by training camp 2011 at the latest. Regardless, Dwyer needs to get out of the tub and on the road before anything can happen.