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mesaSteeler
08-15-2009, 04:22 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers still not sure about what they have in Mendenhall
http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5iyeX4pUJMn_aqnSON_kkMjRS8JJg
By Alan Robinson (CP) 1 hour ago

LATROBE, PA. Last season didn't tell them. Their first exhibition game didn't tell them.

Nearly 16 months after drafting Rashard Mendenhall in the first round, the Pittsburgh Steelers still don't know what they've got in the former Big Ten offensive player of the year at Illinois.

Is he the next Willie Parker, a running back who begins rolling out 1,000-yard seasons immediately after getting into the lineup? Or is he the next Tim Worley, a first-round Steelers failure whose career stalls from the start and never takes off?

The Steelers chose Mendenhall with the No. 23 overall pick to be a power back to complement the outside bursts they regularly get from Parker, to gain difficult yardage near the goal line and, eventually, to succeed Parker as their starter. Parker's contract runs out at the end of this season and has not been extended.

Mendenhall is deep into his second training camp with a team that won the Super Bowl last season without him, yet he remains a big question mark simply because the Steelers haven't seen enough of him. When he has played, they haven't seen enough, period.

Mendenhall's first preseason a year ago was marred by three fumbles in his final two games, so many he was ordered to carry a football with him wherever he went in the Steelers' practice complex. His teammates were encouraged to try to punch the ball loose.

Once the season started, he was limited to 19 carries for 58 yards before a hit by a Baltimore defender during Mendenhall's first career start fractured his left shoulder and ended his rookie year. The Ravens were agitated beforehand when Mendenhall sent a text message to a friend on the Baltimore team that he anticipated having a big game.

After that, Mendenhall didn't endear himself to his new team by disappearing from the Steelers' complex for long stretches, preferring to mend elsewhere.

Still, the Steelers anticipated the five-foot-10, 225-pound Mendenhall taking on a major role in their offence this season. But he didn't offer enough evidence during their preseason opener Thursday against Arizona that he's ready to handle it.

Mendenhall ran nine times for 24 yards, averaging 2.7 yards per carry. He didn't have much running room but also didn't do much with what he had, accepting short gains a couple of times when it appeared he could have gotten much bigger yardage by going outside.

Coach Mike Tomlin's take? "I would like to see us control the line of scrimmage a little better."

"We were trying to work on everything we can around here and I feel we did a pretty good job," Mendenhall said. "Just being back out there, being out there with the team and getting things rolling."

Four days before, Mendenhall failed to score twice during a goal-line drill, about as close as the Steelers get in practice to replicating game conditions. Undrafted rookie Isaac Redman, who displays more of an edge than Mendenhall does, got in twice during the same drill.

The Steelers clearly have plans for Mendenhall; during several longer-yardage situations against Arizona, they put him out wide rather than inserting another wide receiver.

Mendenhall also showed enough flashes during the preseason a year ago - he ran off gains of 21, 18 and 16 yards against Minnesota - that the Steelers are certain that a player who ran for 1,681 yards as a college senior has the talent to do it.

What they want is a player who's already cost them US$12.5 million to begin performing more consistently, just as fellow former first-rounders Troy Polamalu, Santonio Holmes and Lawrence Timmons made big progress in their second seasons.

"I expect the jump from him that I expect all second-year players to take," Tomlin said. "This is his second lap around the track in terms of being a professional athlete and football player.

"We don't make concessions because of injury. We expect him to be a mature guy. He acts like a guy who has been here before, a guy who is ready to burst upon the scene."

Mendenhall feels the same way.

"That (shoulder injury) was just a freak accident," he said. "I'm ready to go play now."

Copyright 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

wootawnee
08-15-2009, 04:34 PM
The buss would have got any more yards running through those holes......We miss Faneca plowing people.......The line better start steping up and start firing off the ball.....That is the only way any of our backs will succeed......These writers are streching for a story.......

scsteeler
08-15-2009, 11:28 PM
The buss would have got any more yards running through those holes......We miss Faneca plowing people.......The line better start steping up and start firing off the ball.....That is the only way any of our backs will succeed......These writers are streching for a story.......

The line does need to do a better job but I don't miss Faneca that much. I think the new guys can do the same thing and will this season.

Galax Steeler
08-16-2009, 07:35 AM
I still say that Mendenhall will be just fine. He needs to get more carries as the preseason rolls on. He will be a good back for us we just need to give him a little time.

revefsreleets
08-16-2009, 08:16 AM
"He's a bust, I tell ya....and Isaac Redmon is the next Jerome Bettis. Bank it!"

< Whatever >

Texasteel
08-16-2009, 08:47 AM
I thought Mendy showed us some pretty good things last year before he got hurt. I expect him to play a lot this year and do vary well.

GBMelBlount
08-16-2009, 08:59 AM
It's way to early to judge Mendenhall.

You can say it's his second lap around the track but in my eyes he's still a rookie.

AllD
08-16-2009, 09:03 AM
Maybe he will get hot in time for the playoffs, but he needs to start earning his paycheck.

43Hitman
08-16-2009, 09:06 AM
"He's a bust, I tell ya....and Isaac Redmon is the next Jerome Bettis. Bank it!"

< Whatever >

:laughing: