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mesaSteeler
09-28-2009, 12:06 AM
Bad practices cut down Mendenhall's time
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_645340.html#
By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, September 28, 2009

Willie Parker rushed for 53 of his game-high 93 yards in the first quarter Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. But a fast start by Parker wasn't the reason why backup Rashard Mendenhall played only on special teams in the Steelers' 23-20 loss to the Bengals.

Coach Mike Tomlin said Mendenhall didn't have a good week of practice.

"Rashard wasn't on the detail (last) week," Tomlin said, "so I chose not to play him on offense."

Mendenhall, the Steelers' first-round pick in the 2008 draft, had a career-long run of 39 yards against the Bears on Sept. 20. The bad practice week allowed Parker to establish season highs in carries (25) and yards.

"The offensive line did a great job," Parker said. "They played with attitude all game. It feels kind of sour that we didn't come out of it with a win."

Hines Wardbecame the first Steelers player to go over 10,000 receiving yards in his career. Mike Wallace, meanwhile, became the first rookie to have a 100-yard receiving game since 2006, when Santonio Holmes did it in the regular-season finale at Cincinnati. Neither were celebrating in a quiet Steelers locker room after they had accomplished their respective feats.

"Right now, the individual goal is nothing to me," Ward said. "Finishing (as) Super Bowl champions and starting 1-2 is not how we envisioned starting."

Missed opportunities contributed to the Steelers' first loss in Cincinnati since 2001, and a 51-yard catch by Wallace in the second quarter could have gone for a touchdown. But Wallace, who had badly beaten cornerback Johnathan Joseph on a fly pattern, let his momentum carry him too far toward the right sideline. He went out of bounds at the Bengals' 10-yard line. The Steelers settled for a 24-yard field goal by Jeff Reed.

"I was looking up at the ball and my body was kind of taking me to the side," Wallace said. "I've got to know where I'm at on the field."

The Bengals didn't score until the end of the first half, and their initial scoring drive may have been aided by the Steelers. With his team leading, 13-0, and 1:15 left in the second quarter, Tomlin opted to go for it on fourth-and-4 from the Bengals' 35-yard line. The Steelers didn't convert, and Carson Palmer put together a seven-play drive that Shayne Graham capped with a 34-yard field goal.

"We thought we had an opportunity to get a first down and potentially a touchdown," Tomlin said. "We were on the outermost edge of what was comfortable field-goal range."

Steelers tight end David Johnson, who also lines up at fullback, left yesterday's game in the first quarter and did not return. The Steelers used Johnson in the backfield in place of rookie fullback Frank Summers, who did not dress for the game.

Joining Summers on the inactive list were strong safety Troy Polamalu (knee injury), cornerback Keenan Lewis, defensive end Nick Eason, wide receiver Shaun McDonald, guard Kraig Urbik, offensive tackle Tony Hills and Dennis Dixon (third quarterback).

Tyrone Carter started his second consecutive game for the injured Polamalu and recorded three tackles.

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.