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Running backs will be in spotlight Sunday


One streak will depend on another Sunday when Jacksonville visits Heinz Field.
The Jaguars come into the 1 p.m. game an odd combination of heavy underdog and Steelers nemesis.
Jacksonville has won the last three games it has played at Heinz Field, dating back to 2005. For that streak to continue, the Jaguars need Maurice Jones-Drew to exceed 80 rushing yards for a sixth consecutive game.
If Jones-Drew can became the third back to go over 100 yards this season against the Steelers and score a couple of times the Jaguars have a chance of pulling the upset.
Short but stout, Jones-Drew is reminiscent of Baltimore’s Ray Rice with his stature and all-around skills.
“But (Jones-Drew) has his own style,” Steelers free safety Ryan Clark said, after agreeing that the two backs are similar. “I think he’s a little bit tougher than Ray Rice. Ray Rice has a little more scatback in him than Jones-Drew does.”
The Steelers’ running backs also bear watching Sunday.
Rashard Mendenhall will start, and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Thursday that the fourth-year veteran is still the Steelers’ feature back. But Arians also left a little wiggle room when it comes to the division of labor between Mendenhall and Isaac Redman, saying that that Steelers wouldn’t “overwork” the former since he is returning from a hamstring injury.
Here is my take on the situation at running back: Redman has earned more carries, but why are some fans so quick to want to dump Mendenhall? He has played all of four games this season.
The same guy that some have soured on helped carry the Steelers’ offense the first four games last season while Ben Roethlisberger was out. And Mendenhall quietly had one of the better seasons in Steelers history by a running back.
What he has done this season -– or what he hasn’t done -– is not enough of a sample size for me to say that the Steelers need a major shake-up at running back.

— Scott Brown



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