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Old 08-14-2009, 09:31 PM   #1
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Default Mendenhall returns to action

Mendenhall returns to action
By Julie Gebhard, Times Sports Staff

PITTSBURGH — At his press conference Tuesday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin described Rashard Mendenhall as “a young guy who is ready to burst onto the scene.”

The second-year running back didn’t quite burst on the scene in the season-opening preseason game against Arizona, but simply getting into games is big for the former No. 1 draft pick.

Mendenhall, drafted out of Illinois,carried just 19 times for 58 yards last season before fracturing his shoulder Sept. 29 against the Baltimore Ravens.

Thursday night’s action against the Cardinals was his first live action since the injury.

Mendenhall started in the place of Willie Parker, who missed several days of practice this week with back spasms. Mendenhall ended with 24 yards on nine carries, with a long gain of 7 yards.

Tomlin knows Mendenhall is a work in progress.

“I expect the jump from him that I expect all second-year players to take,” he said. “This is his second lap around the track in terms of being a professional athlete and pro football player. He acts like a guy who has been here before, a guy who is ready to burst onto the scene and put his hand in the pile to help us win.”

“The key for him, like all young guys, is they have to play,” running back coach Kirby Wilson said. “He’s still trying to develop a style — who he is, what kind of runner he’s going to be in this league.”

One running back who did make an impressive debut was Isaac Redman, who both both Steelers touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Redman, a rookie from from Bowie State, scored on runs of 3 and 5 yards and gained 32 yards on 10 carries.
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