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Formerly fat, Steelers’ Jonathan Dwyer shapes up

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 01: Jonathan Dwyer #27 of the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Carolina Panthers during their preseason game at Bank of America Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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Steelers running back Jonathan Dwyer isn’t fat anymore, and that could be big news for the backfield in Pittsburgh.

Weight problems have plagued Dwyer since before he was in the NFL: He showed up out of shape at the 2010 Scouting Combine and slipped to the sixth round of the draft, and he showed up overweight at training camp last year and failed the team’s conditioning test. That’s part of the reason Dwyer has been limited to just eight games and 25 carries in two NFL seasons.

But Dwyer says he has lost 20 pounds from his high of 240 and is in better shape, and that with starting running back Rashard Mendenhall likely to miss the start of the season with a torn ACL, Dwyer is ready to play a significant part in the Steelers’ offense.

“I am just realizing how much it takes to get where you are in this league and how hard you have to work and push yourself,” Dwyer told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “This is my year to prove something to myself, the league, to the organization, that I am worth more than what I was.”

Dwyer, who is No. 2 on the depth chart behind Isaac Redman while Mendenhall is down, says he’ll be ready for as many carries as the Steelers give him this year.

“I know if I come in at the weight I am supposed to be, I will be OK,” Dwyer said. “It is not anybody else’s responsibility to come into camp in shape. It is mine.”

With Mendenhall down, the Steelers need Dwyer to be in shape and ready for a lot of carries from Day One.