Healing Mendenhall impresses in practice
By Mark Kaboly
Published: Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Rashard Mendenhall might not make his season debut Sunday against Oakland, but teammates say it's not because he isn't ready.
Following the first practice in which coach Mike Tomlin permitted the defense to “thud-up” Mendenhall and his surgically repaired knee, teammates were impressed with what they saw from the mending running back.
“He made a cut on the back side of a zone (blocking scheme) and just took off,” guard Willie Colon said. “It kind of reminded me of the old Rashard. He actually looked more explosive. He looked fast. Everything I saw was a good sign.”
Mendenhall has been practicing in full for the past couple of weeks while gradually adding more to his rehabilitation. Mendenhall stepped up his practice preparation recently to where fellow running back Isaac Redman said he believes it is only a matter of time before Mendenhall is on the field on game days.
“He looked excellent out there,” Redman said. “He is cutting, he is making reads, and he got the burst back.”
But will that be enough for Mendenhall to get on the field for the first time since tearing his ACL on New Year's Day?
“Possibly, but I am still taking it a day at a time,” Mendenhall said.
Mendenhall said there has been a plan in place by the medical staff, the organization and himself regarding his recovery. All involved will make the decision of when he will be cleared to play.
“It is just all of us putting our heads together and ultimately everybody feeling comfortable enough,” Mendenhall said. “When there is a green light, that is what I am preparing for.”
The Steelers could use a healthy Mendenhall to cure an ailing running game.
The Steelers rank 30th in the NFL in rushing (70.5 yards per game) and yards per carry (2.6), but what has been particularly alarming is their lack of big plays on the ground. A year after having 20 rushes of 15 yards or longer (eight by Mendenhall), the Steelers have none through two games. What's more, the Steelers have 10 rushing plays that have gone for negative yards, including seven against the Jets last week.
“(Mendenhall) is our home run back,” Colon said. “We all know that if he breaks it, he can get to the end zone. All we have to do is give him a little bit, and he will take care of the rest.”
Mendenhall, who is the final year of his rookie contract, said he will continue to be diligent with his return. An injury-free season could result in a lucrative contract for the former first-rounder.
“I am preparing to get back to that level,” Mendenhall said. “That's where my focus is.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Panthers free agent safety headed to Steelers
- Analysis: Steelers could fill needs with free agents while not spending big bucks
- Steelers to release LaMarr Woodley; Taylor restructures contract
- Kovacevic: Big Ben’s contract clock ticking
- Steelers defense doesn’t make the grade in 2013 review
- With so many needs, Steelers can ill afford to miss in draft
- Keisel might be at end of Steelers career