Pittsburgh Steelers Release RB Jonathan Dwyer

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIAugust 31, 2013

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 29:  Jonathan Dwyer #27 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stiff-arms Chase Blackburn #93 of the Carolina Panthers during a preseason NFL game at Bank of America Stadium on August 29, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced the release of running back Jonathan Dwyer on Saturday. He started six games in 2012, running for 623 yards and two touchdowns.

The Steelers announced the decision on the team's website:

The Steelers released 22 players, including veteran running backJonathan Dwyer and three recent draft picks, and they activated tight endHeath Miller from the physically unable to perform list in moves designed to get their roster to the NFL-mandated limit of 53 for the start of the 2013 season.

Dwyer bid farewell to Pittsburgh on Twitter.

Ryan Wilson of CBSSports.com provided some reasoning as to why Dwyer may have been released:

Pittsburgh has moved to an outside zone-blocking scheme this season, and perhaps there was no place for Dwyer in this offense, at least when compared to the rest of the depth chart at running back.

The deviation from the Steelers' tradition of pounding the ball between the tackles seems to have left Dwyer as the odd man out in the backfield.

Pittsburgh acquired former first-round pick Felix Jones from the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 23, and his magnificent speed is likely what garnered him a roster spot over Dwyer.

Jones is also a stellar receiver out of the backfield. That was a skill Dwyer flashed in nabbing 18 receptions in 2012, but he only averaged 5.9 yards per catch, compared to the 10.5 yards Jones averaged in Dallas last season on 25 receptions.

The Steelers selected Le'Veon Bell in the second round of this year's draft to presumably be the workhorse featured back, but a foot sprain—which thankfully won't require surgery—was thought to possibly keep him out for six weeks, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Aug. 21:

In spite of that, it appears Pittsburgh feels comfortable with its depth in Isaac Redman and LaRod Stephens-Howling—another laterally quick scatback who is a more ideal fit for runs on the perimeter.

Stephens-Howling can catch well and be a potential asset on kickoff returns too. However, Redman has been hampered by a stinger injury, putting his status for the beginning of the season in doubt.

Dwyer was a sixth-round pick in the 2010 draft, and as Wilson points out, he reported to training camp 20 pounds lighter this year. However, it wasn't enough to hold down a spot on Pittsburgh's 53-man roster.