Rashard Mendenhall will be starter
By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com
It's unknown whether Rashard Mendenhall will play Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, but he will remain the Steelers' starting running back when he's recovered from an Achilles injury, running backs coach Kirby Wilson told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Wednesday.
"Rashard has always been our lead dog and our top runner," Wilson told the newspaper.
After missing the first three games of the season because of offseason knee surgery, Mendenhall returned to gain 101 total yards against the Eagles before injuring his Achilles the next game. In his absence, Jonathan Dwyer has gained 100 yards rushing in back-to-back games, and Isaac Redman produced a career-high 147 yards rushing last Sunday.
There is a chance the Steelers will go with a running back-by-committee approach, and Wilson repeated what coach Mike Tomlin said earlier in the week about giving the ball to the running back who is having the most success during the game. Wilson indicated the first opportunities would go to Mendenhall.
"Rashard is the complete package -- power, speed, explosiveness," Wilson said. "He is the guy who can take a 10-yard run and make people miss and get 20 more. We think Jonathan has things that he is great at. Isaac has some things that he is great at. But Rashard is the complete package. Rashard has proved that he can do it over the long haul."
Mendenhall is considered questionable for Monday's game against Kansas City. A first-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2008, he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
I've said before that I generally agree that a player shouldn't lose his job to injury, but to say that Mendy will be the starter and clearly imply that neither Dwyer nor Redman are the "complete package" is wrong.
I think if Mendy is healthy, he should be given an opportunity to play.
But I also think that in light of what Redman and Dwyer have been doing, he should have to earn that starting job rather than having it handed to him.
Wilson also goes on to gush about Mendy's explosiveness and ability to turn a short play into a big one.
This may be true, but I could say the very same thing about either Redman or Dwyer and to imply that they don't have such ability disses both of them.
I've always believed that Mendy is better at running to the outside or serving as a pass-catcher out of the backfield than a "through-the-line" power back (think Fast Willie) and I DO NOT see him as having the ability to pound the ball straight ahead as Dwyer and Redman have done.
I think Mendy has a role in this team but I'm not sure that "Starting Running Back" should be it.