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Old 09-26-2009, 12:13 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' Mendenhall has 'cool' moment in Chicago

Steelers' Mendenhall has 'cool' moment in Chicago
Saturday, September 26, 2009
By Chuck Finder, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09269/1000959-66.stm

In front of family and friends, back home in the sprawl that locals call Chicagoland, he produced seldom-seen flashes: the longest run and the longest catch of his all-too-brief career, not to mention the Steelers' longest run in about 29 regular-season games.

"It was cool, you know what I mean?" Rashard Mendenhall said, with the Bears -- much like his 39-yard rush and 13-yard reverse-field catch-and-run play a week ago at Soldier Field -- shrinking in his rear-view mirror. "But that was one day. One game."

One catch. One run.

"You're trying to put together a resume," he added.

It was the sixth game of his once-interrupted NFL career.

It was the 26th rush, the previous ones totaling a meager 64 yards and a sub-meager average of 2.56 yards per carry.

It was the third catch.

A guy has to start somewhere.

To his offensive coordinator, continued success tomorrow afternoon in Cincinnati would be, well, far beyond cool. It would be a giant leap in the development of the 23rd-overall selection of the 2008 draft.

"It's his time to get his snaps and do the best he can, and he did a damn good job," Bruce Arians said. "When you do that good, you get some more.

"But it's still Willie's ball."

Willie Parker remains the Steelers' feature back, but Mendenhall can perhaps improve upon his second billing if he continues to perform as he did with his final catch and final carry in what became a 17-14 Chicago victory Sunday.

Asked if Mendenhall would see an increased workload against the Bengals in Paul Brown Stadium, Arians responded: "Depends what he does with them when he gets them this time."

Last time, before about 20 family members and friends in the Soldier Field crowd, with folks in his native Skokie, Ill., watching their first NFL player homecoming in three decades, Mendenhall had one first-half carry for nothing before he broke off a little something.

With 6:56 remaining in the third quarter, he released to the left flat for a Ben Roethlisberger pass that drifted a shade behind him, causing Mendenhall's legs to tangle and him to fall. No matter. The 5-foot-10, 225-pound halfback popped up, sensed trouble approaching and embarked upon an alternate route. He quickly reversed field to the right, picking up blocks along the way, and wound up gaining 13 yards before being pushed out of bounds along the right sideline by safety Kevin Payne.

His second carry of the game, again good for nothing, was promptly followed by an unnecessary roughness penalty on Chicago, and the Steelers suddenly were in business at the Bears' 41-yard line. Mendenhall next bolted through a crevasse in the Bears' defense for those 39 yards before being shoved out of bounds -- again, by Payne -- at the Chicago 2 to set up Roethlisberger's touchdown run on the next play.

In one jaunt, Mendenhall outrushed his best games as a pro: 28 yards on 10 carries in his 2008 rookie debut against Houston and 30 yards on 9 more carries three weeks later against Baltimore -- whereupon the Ravens' Ray Lewis clobbered him into the next year with a fractured shoulder.

In one catch, he nearly outperformed his reception totals of his previous five NFL games: two catches for 17 yards, with a long of 11 at Philadelphia last September.

And, in one well-executed counter play, the Steelers had their longest run of 2009 and '08 and most of '07, dating to Week 5 and the since-departed Najeh Davenport with a 45-yarder against Seattle.

Still, Parker said, the hometown kid was just 6 feet away from his inaugural NFL score: "That was a great moment. But, I mean, if he had scored, it would have been an even better moment."

Having any kind of a moment helped Mendenhall.

"Yes, it was" a big game for him, Arians said. "It was really good for his confidence. You can see the pep in his step out here in practice this week is a little different.

"[But] it's what he does with success. A lot of guys are in this business because they know how to deal with failure. We'll see how he deals with success, and if he can put them back to back -- two weeks of preparation that shows up on the field. He's got a world of talent. We'll see how it goes."

Mendenhall admits that missing every game and practice after last September hindered him. He remains very much a rookie on the field. It's where he plans to enhance that resume.

"Playing is different," Mendenhall said. "When the ball's snapped, everything is happening. It's a different game, a different speed."

Will Mendenhall, be able to add more breakaway runs?

"I'm trying to do everything I can with whatever opportunities I get," he said. "Trying to look forward. Trying not to look backward."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09269...#ixzz0SBd6vQDJ
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Old 09-26-2009, 06:20 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' Mendenhall has 'cool' moment in Chicago

I would love to see Mendenhall get more carries. I think that is what he needs to get his career a going. He should be able to have a pretty good game against the Bungholes.
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Old 09-27-2009, 06:31 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' Mendenhall has 'cool' moment in Chicago

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Originally Posted by Galax Steeler View Post
I would love to see Mendenhall get more carries. I think that is what he needs to get his career a going. He should be able to have a pretty good game against the Bungholes.
Hear hear. I expect so much from the kid. With Willie alongside of him, he should B able 2 become heck of a Steelers RB. He would definetely change that low stats about our running game.
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Old 09-27-2009, 10:06 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' Mendenhall has 'cool' moment in Chicago

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Originally Posted by Galax Steeler View Post
I would love to see Mendenhall get more carries. I think that is what he needs to get his career a going. He should be able to have a pretty good game against the Bungholes.
You and me both. IMO Mendenhall can be a very good RB, but he needs to get a lot more touches to display his talent.
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