Rashard Mendenhall Still Trying to Play in Week One
If someone would have told me in August that Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall has a legit chance to play on Sunday Night, I probably would have cackled at them. Rashard Mendenhall was expected to miss a pretty big chunk of the 2012 season after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament during their loss to the Browns in January. But wait, Mendenhall was a full participant in Wednesday’s team practice, giving us a pretty simple answer as to why he was not placed on the PUP list in the beginning of the season. According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mendenhall did not sport his surgically repaired knee brace as he went through his second consecutive full practice on Wednesday.
Coaches usually don’t opt to use players in 11-on-11 team drills if they are unlikely to play in that week’s contest. This gives us a fair indication that Mendenhall can possibly be suited up for Sunday Night Football in Denver. Mendenhall’s recovery process has been amazing thus far, and no one in the organization really could have had any idea he would be practicing fully this quickly. It was not long ago that Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was openly saying that Mendenhall could miss the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list.
If you judge the reactions of a few teammates, Rashard Mendenhall has passed every test during team practices. Jim Wexell of the Steel City Insider quoted Brett Keisel saying that Mendenhall “looked incredible”. Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons also thought he looked great, and is also very excited for his teammate upon returning. Many Steelers fans also believe that No. 34 will be suited up to take on the Broncos on Sunday Night. Was Head Coach Mike Tomlin playing possum with the media? Or was Mendenhall’s recovery just that good?
Let’s say Mendenhall is suited up on Sunday Night, I’d still stay away from starting him on my fantasy squad. Considering that he has not taken any reps in the preseason and the fact that they are facing a pretty solid defense, I wouldn’t think of giving him the green light. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mendy get 5-8 carries on Sunday Night if Tomlin gives him the go, but don’t expect any significant fantasy production. I would stay away from the Steelers running backs all together, including Issac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer. But if I’m the guy in my league that snagged Mendenhall in the final rounds of my draft, or the guy that picked him up off waivers, I’m feeling pretty lucky right now.