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Todd Haley Did Not Lobby Pittsburgh Steelers to Draft Chris Rainey

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 04:  Fifth round draft pick Chris Rainey #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers works out during their rookie minicamp at the Pittsburgh Steelers South Side training facility on May 4, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Sigmund BloomNFL Draft Lead WriterMay 18, 2012

The Pittsburgh Steelers have never had a diminutive speedster who can contribute as a receiver, running back and return man like Chris Rainey before. They also recently hired former Kansas City head coach Todd Haley as their offensive coordinator. Haley was in Kansas City when the team drafted a very similar talent, Dexter McCluster, in the second round back in 2010. The assumption circulated quickly that Haley was behind the pick so that Rainey could become the Steelers' version of McCluster.

That assumption is wrong, at least according to Len Pasquarelli from Scout.com. Pasquarelli reports that his Pittsburgh sources "insist" that Haley didn't lobby for Rainey, even though he doesn't fit the mold of a Steelers running back. The word, per Pasquarelli, is that the Steelers wanted a back who can break a big play, which is exactly what Rainey provides via speed. While this might represent a change from previous offensive philosophies in Pittsburgh, it sounds like Haley didn't initiate the change, although he'll be primarily responsible for finding ways to activate the new school of thought via Rainey's use in the offense.

So if Haley didn't push for Rainey, who did? Rainey is "like a brother" to Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat writer Ed Bouchette. The two lived together and played football together during their high school years in Lakeland, Florida. Perhaps Pouncey didn't pound on the table for his long-time close friend, but the Steelers certainly would have consulted him, especially about an incident at the University of Florida that resulted in Rainey being charged with aggravated stalking, a felony (he later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor).

That they selected Rainey means they feel good that he has learned and grown from the experience, and he can only benefit from being reunited with Pouncey. While it's unclear exactly who spurred the team to add Rainey in the draft, if he starts making plays like he did at Florida, where he scored as a runner, receiver and returner in two of the last seasons, then everyone in the organization will be claiming that it was his idea.

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