Steelers cut ties with Dwyer
The Steelers cut running back Jonathan Dwyer along with 21 other players Saturday.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are guaranteed to have a new leading rushing for the fourth time in six seasons.
The Steelers assured that Saturday when they included running back Jonathan Dwyer among the cuts that trimmed the roster to 53 players in preparation for next Sunday’s regular season opener against Tennessee.
Dwyer, 24, led the Steelers in rushing last season with a career-best 623 yards. He appeared in 13 games, six of them starts. It was the lowest total to lead Pittsburgh in rushing since 1991.
But Dwyer showed up for offseason workouts overweight, something that frustrated the coaching staff.
Dwyer lost the weight prior to the start of training camp, but fell behind Isaac Redman and rookie Le’Veon Bell on the depth chart.
Though Redman and Bell missed time with injuries in the preseason, Dwyer was unable to make up any ground. He led the Steelers with 136 yards on 34 preseason carries, but also fumbled twice.
His fate might have been sealed two weeks ago when the Steelers made a trade with Philadelphia for former Dallas No. 1 draft pick Felix Jones, who rushed for 85 yards on 22 carries in two preseason games.
“I thought that his pedigree showed,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of Jones following the final preseason game Thursday in Carolina. “His natural run instincts showed.”
The Steelers expect Redman, who has not played since the first preseason game after suffering a pinched nerve in his shoulder, to be ready for Tennessee.
Bell, meanwhile, has missed the past two preseason games with a mid-foot sprain. He will not play against Tennessee, but could return to action in the next couple of weeks.
In addition to releasing Dwyer, the Steelers activated tight end Heath Miller from the PUP list and placed him on the active roster. Miller, the team’s leading receiver and MVP in 2012, is coming off a torn ACL suffered against Cleveland last December.
With Miller’s activation, the Steelers have five tight ends on the roster. In addition to Miller, Pittsburgh kept David Johnson, Matt Spaeth, David Paulson and Michael Palmer.
Spaeth, who is out until at least mid-October after undergoing foot surgery last month, is expected to be placed on injured reserve this week. The Steelers must decide if they will place Spaeth on season-ending injured reserve or designate him for return.
With the cuts, the Steelers have 12 new players on the active roster, including wide receiver Derek Moye, a first-year player out of Penn State and graduate of Rochester High School.
Included in that group are six members of this year’s draft class, Bell, linebacker Jarvis Jones, wide receiver Markus Wheaton, quarterback Landry Jones, safety Shamarko Thomas and linebacker Vince Williams.
Two of this year’s draft picks, cornerback Terry Hawthorne and wide receiver Justin Brown, were among those released, along with 2012 fourth-round draft pick Alameda Ta’amu, a nose tackle who was beaten out for a roster spot by Hebron Fangupo.
Punter Drew Butler also held onto his job, edging veteran Brian Moorman for a roster spot.
Other cuts included safety Ross Ventrone, a Chartiers Valley High School graduate; defensive end Brian Arnfelt; linebackers Marshall McFadden, Alan Baxter and Terence Garvin; cornerbacks Josh Victorian and Devin Smith; tight ends Jamie McCoy and Nathan Overbay; wide receivers Kashif Moore and Reggie Dunn; running back Alvester Alexander; and offensive linemen Joe Long, Mike Golic Jr. and Chris Hubbard.
The Steelers are off today and will return to practice Monday. … No members of this year’s undrafted rookie class made the final roster.