The Pittsburgh Steelers parted ways with rookie running back Chris Rainey today following his arrest for hitting a woman in Florida in what was reportedly a fight over a cell phone. Rainey was arrested and charged and within hours, two things occurred; The Steelers released Rainey and then the usual ‘One set of rules for Ben Roethlisberger and one set for everyone else’ calls started on social media.
I’ll deal with that ridiculous subject another time…
The dismissal of Rainey means that the Steelers have basically wasted their fourth and fifth round draft choices from the 2012 draft. Alameda Ta’Amu was on the practice squad when the season ended following his arrest that started with being intoxicated and ended with assault. Most don’t expect him back and now Rainey, who is now fighting his second domestic battery issue is gone too.
Much like college coaches can’t control their players 24/7, neither can NFL coaches and general managers. Young men like Rainey come out of difficult family situations or have rough upbringings and then are thrust into the spotlight and have money to spend and burn. It’s a lot of pressure and a lot of temptation that the average person will never know. I can only hope Rainey gets the attention he needs to help him solve these issues.
From a football standpoint, Rainey will be missed on kick returns and that’s where it ends. Not that I am belittling that in any way, it’s just I believe much more was expected of Rainey and I don’t entirely blame him either. As a running back, he barely eclipsed 100 yards on the season and was never used properly by Todd Haley in my opinion.
When you have a guy that’s about 170lbs soaking wet and you’re consistently try to run him between the tackles then there’s a problem. His touchdown run in Cleveland was a perfect example when he was bottled up on a dive but was able to bounce it outside where he beat everyone to the end zone. That should have been a light bulb illuminating for Haley but it wasn’t.
Rainey was almost never split out wide as a receiver. We never saw him used on short crossing routes or routes where he would be isolated on slower linebackers and that’s a coaching shortfall when those matchups aren’t taken advantage of.
Obviously we won’t have to worry about the use of Rainey in 2013, but should the Steelers pick up a guy with a similar skill set and Todd Haley is still running the offense then I have serious concerns he’ll be used well.
Rainey seemed to be a good guy and was pretty well-liked by his teammates. While none of us is perfect and we all make mistakes, we aren’t professional athletes either who are constantly under the microscope. Rainey will get a shot with someone but his days as a Steeler are over and they really aren’t losing as much as you’d think.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.