Tomlin: Run Game Needs to Improve

It was easy to tell that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was coming off a win Tuesday at his weekly press conference. He became cranky when asked about ...

... something that should've been the high point of his week: a 10-minute, 13-second drive that devoured the fourth quarter and beat the New York Jets on Sunday.

Specifically, Tomlin wasn't happy about the lack of production from the running game. The Steelers rushed 8 times for 31 yards (3.9 average) in that game-clinching drive.

"I'm looking for more than that, obviously," said Tomlin. "We were able to run the ball and possess the ball. I'm looking for better than that."

If Tomlin wasn't pleased about that drive, he couldn't have been pleased with the 20 carries for 35 yards (1.8 avg.) the Steelers gained on the ground the rest of the game.

He wasn't. "We haven't run the ball as well as we would have liked," Tomlin said. "I'm not interested in assigning blame in that regard."

But Tomlin did take responsibility, and then he assigned blame: "We need to block better. We need to put the ball where it needs to be more consistently," he said.

After the game, transplanted left guard Willie Colon took his share of the blame.

"There are chemistry issues; some mechanic issues," he said. "The mechanical issues we had today were dumb. I take some responsibility for that. But we'll be all right."

The running backs were tentative, and when they did find a hole rarely did they burst through it. But Colon doesn't believe the blame lies there.

"You've got to give those backs confidence," he said. "A lot of times they get spooked if we're not clean up front, so a lot of that was on us. We'll get better."

Isaac Redman carried 6 times on the final scoring drive for 20 yards (6 for 5 the rest of the game) and started to resemble the back who averaged 4.8 yards per his 186 carries the previous two seasons.

This season, Redman is averaging 2.0 per carry. The Steelers are 30th in the league in both overall rushing yardage (141) and average per carry (2.6).

"The whole training camp and preseason I was fighting through injuries, my ankle, my hip, my ankle," Redman said. "(Sunday) I felt pretty healthy out there. Once I got going I didn't really feel anything."

Jonathan Dwyer did. Redman's backup is on the injury list this week with turf toe. Tomlin said it could hinder Dwyer early in the week but that he still could play Sunday in Oakland.

If Dwyer can't, perhaps Rashard Mendenhall can. Mendenhall is now more than eight months removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL. Tomlin said Mendenhall will participate in contact this week for the first time.

"We'll thud him up a little bit the day we're allowed to carry our pads," Tomlin said.

As for the rest of the Steelers' injury list, SS Troy Polamalu (calf), OLB James Harrison (knee), RT Marcus Gilbert (groin strain), TE Heath Miller (rib cartilage) and ILB Stevenson Sylvester (knee) are day-to-day along with Dwyer and Mendenhall.

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