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Steelers vs. Chiefs: What will Chris Rainey's role be?

Chris Rainey cracked one of his ribs against the New York Giants, but the Pittsburgh Steelers' running back will reportedly play Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain wonders why the explosive rookie out of Florida will play through the pain this week: although he's an asset to the Pittsburgh running game and special teams, he's not irreplaceable. As a backup running back behind a healthy Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, Rainey has just 16 carries on the team, and could be benched in favor of Baron Batch.

Although he helps as a kick and punt returner in the absence of Antonio Brown, those duties could be handled by Emmanuel Sanders. Perhaps, Coolong hypothesizes, Todd Haley is merely using the speedy running back as a diversion:

Rainey's explosiveness can be an asset even without the ball in his hands. If he's distracting the opponents, as Haley suggested he was earlier in the year, perhaps the game plan is to have him continue participating in the same formations he has to this point in the year, but with no intention of getting him the ball.

Coolong points out that Rainey fumbled last week, even when he wasn't playing with a cracked rib, on account of poor ball protection. With a painful injury, he's even more of a liability to make a mistake with the ball in his hands.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.