Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Backup Plan in Works for Backfield Injuries Push Batch, Rainey to Forefront as Top Running Backs Try to Heal

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Backup Plan in Works for Backfield Injuries Push Batch, Rainey to Forefront as Top Running Backs Try to Heal

Article excerpt

"One man's misfortune is another man's opportunity."

Those were the words of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin earlier this week when he was asked about his injury-riddled group of running backs.

Baron Batch was the unfortunate one last year when a major knee injury ended his rookie season. Now it's Batch who is getting plenty of opportunities with the first-, second- and third-string running backs out or limited with injuries.

"That's part of the game," Batch said. "Guys get hurt. Last year, that was me. You definitely don't want to see anyone go down. Everyone in that room is close. Everyone wants everyone else to do well. I'm hoping those guys get back soon. I'm going to keep working hard and prepare myself to be ready to go with whatever they ask me to do."

Starting running back Rashard Mendenhall remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list as he recovers from January knee surgery. His replacement, Isaac Redman, had an MRI Thursday morning on his troublesome groin injury. He did not practice, but he hopes to be able to practice by Monday.

Jonathan Dwyer, a third-year pro who is dealing with a shoulder injury, practiced in pads for the first time this week after he sustained his injury in the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

The Steelers signed undrafted free agent Jason Ford to add depth at the position after John Clay, a practice squad player most of last season, was waived injured Monday after he sustained a hip injury in practice Sunday. Ford hasn't been able to fully practice with the team because he is going through an acclimation period as mandated by the new collective bargaining agreement.

As a result, Batch and rookie Chris Rainey took the majority of the snaps in practice this week and will get a lot of the work when the Steelers play host to the Indianapolis Colts in the second preseason game Sunday night at Heinz Field.

Batch played in his first game of any kind in nearly two years last Thursday against the Eagles. He got 19 carries after Redman and Dwyer left the game early with injuries.

"I didn't envision myself carrying the load," said Batch, a seventh-round draft choice out of Texas Tech who finished with 41 rushing yards. …

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