Steelers notebook: RB Mendenhall not worried about fumbles
Newly demoted running back Rashard Mendenhall isn't upset at being called a backup. But he dislikes being labeled as a fumbler, even after losing the ball twice in Cleveland.
The former first-round draft pick fumbled only six times in his first 819 carries; he has three in his last 28 carries.
“That is not something I question myself on. I know the way I secure the ball, so I don't really worry about it,” Mendenhall said.
He can become a free agent after this season, but he's not worried about the fumbles affecting his market value. “I really don't think about,” he said.
• To receiver Antonio Brown, the most frustrating part of missing three games with a high ankle sprain was watching the offense produce only one touchdown each game. He went through a full practice Wednesday and expects to play in Baltimore. “No question, it's hard when you watch your teammates and you can't get out there,” Brown said. “I think everyone is frustrated coming off back-to-back losses for the first time since I've been here. Everyone should be frustrated.”
• Mike Wallace, whose production has dropped with Brown out, said he wasn't told of his demotion to co-starter by coach Mike Tomlin until he arrived for practice Wednesday. Tomlin told reporters the day before. “It wasn't that long ago I heard,” Wallace said. “It doesn't matter (who told him) because I know now.” Wallace had 18 catches in the past three games Brown played; he has eight catches for 48 yards in his most recent three games. He isn't certain whether he or Emmanuel Sanders will start Sunday. “If I am out there, I will give it everything I've got,” Wallace said.
• Rookie right guard David DeCastro is on the active roster for the first time since injuring his right knee Aug. 25 in Buffalo, and he said sitting out for so long was “really difficult.” He expects to be a backup for now.
• Brian Hoyer is ready to go only a week after joining the Steelers. Tomlin said Hoyer's role, if necessary, could be expanded this week beyond that of emergency quarterback. “I don't think they would have signed me if they didn't think I could go in,” said Hoyer, Tom Brady's former backup in New England. “It's not like I'm fresh out of college, I've been the backup to a pretty good quarterback for three years. When it gets down to it, football is football. The terminology might be different, the schemes might be different, but you've got to go out there and play.”
• Running backs coach Kirby Wilson's reaction to the five fumbles in Cleveland? Beyond anger. “Oh man, he was (ticked),” running back Isaac Redman said. “After (Jonathan) Dwyer's fumble, Kirby was all out of energy. He just came to the sideline (and said), ‘Y'all going to make me go with (Chris) Rainey! I'm going to do it! I'm not scared to do it! I'm going to do it!'” Rainey indeed went into the game — and fumbled twice as a receiver.
• Nose tackle Casey Hampton's traditional pregame meal in Baltimore isn't eaten at the team hotel. It's served up in a wrapper courtesy of a Ravens fans. “There's a fan there — I don't know his name — he brings me a hot dog,” Hampton said. “He takes care of me. That's my guy.” Doesn't the oversized Hampton worry his pregame treat might be, uh, tainted? “After I first couple of times, seeing there was nothing wrong with it. … It's pretty good,” he said. “I eat it plain. I don't want to upset my stomach too much.”
• Just like Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu didn't talk to reporters Wednesday. Unlike Roethlisberger, he went through a full practice — his first since Oct. 5. Ryan Clark, the other starting safety, expects him to play. Even if Polamalu isn't 100 percent — his torn calf kept him out for seven games — his presence could provide a lift. “He does a great job of communicating (with) the other defensive backs and getting them all coordinated on the same page. He's a guy you really have to track,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. One surprising statistic: Polamalu has no interceptions against the Ravens in 14 regular-season games.