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Old 10-01-2009, 11:06 PM   #1
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Default Mendenhall: 'It's hard to judge me'

Mendenhall: 'It's hard to judge me'
By Mark Kaboly
Friday, October 2, 2009

Rashard Mendenhall has played seven games in his career and has a total of 26 carries.

Those numbers, Mendenhall would argue, are hardly a large enough sample to evaluate the Steelers' 2008 first-round pick.

After getting benched last week for what he said were "minor details," Mendenhall has scrutinized heavily the past couple days.

"Not a lot of people have seen me play a lot," said Mendenhall, who turned 22 a few months back. "So it's hard to judge either way."

What people have seen from Mendenhall so far has been a bunch of fumbles last preseason, a broken shoulder via a hit from Ray Lewis, rarely being seen around the team after being placed on injured reserve and, most recently, getting benched against Cincinnati.

"He is learning how to be a pro," veteran running back Mewelde Moore said. "He will be fine."

Perhaps, but the longer Mendenhall fails to contribute to a running game that needs a spark, the more he will be compared in a negative way to the backs drafted by rival teams last year.

Mendenhall was the fourth running back selected last year, just before Tennessee took Chris Johnson and Dallas chose Felix Jones, both of who have enjoyed much more success than Mendenhall so far.

Out of the top 10 running backs selected, Mendenhall has the least amount of yards - but also the least amount of opportunities.

"It is easy to look at other people's situations and wonder why it isn't like that," Mendenhall said. "But every situation is different. I just want an opportunity to show what I can do."

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Mendenhall has taken a step in the right direction by practicing much better than last week.

"This week has been good," Mendenhall said. "I've know what to expect."

Mendenhall, however, is not guaranteed extended action Sunday night against the Chargers - even if Willie Parker can't play due to a sore left toe.

Parker missed his second consecutive day of practice Thursday and will likely be a game-time decision. The coaching staff has yet to announce whether Mendenhall or Moore would start.

Moore averaged 20 carries and 90 yards per game the four times he started for an injured Parker last year.

Arians, who said Mendenhall was ready to play once game day came around last week, was not surprised the second-year pro didn't better handle the success he had against Chicago the week before, when he had a 39-yard run that led to the Steelers' second touchdown.

"When you have your first success, your natural tendency is to relax a little bit," Arians said.

Mendenhall doesn't agree with Arians' assessment of why there was a lack of concentration last week.

"It just happened to be after (the success), but it wasn't because of that," Mendenhall said. "I felt that it was a learning experience, and I learned a lot from it. You learn in the NFL that minor things are major."

Parker is confident Mendenhall has learned his lesson.

"It is time for him to bounce back," Parker said.

And that could come as soon as Sunday.

Mark Kaboly can be reached at mkaboly@dailynewsemail.com or 412-664-9161.
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Old 10-02-2009, 04:15 AM   #2
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Default Re: Mendenhall: 'It's hard to judge me'

Nice read on Mendenhall, I would love to see him get more touches this week so he can be evaluated more and see where he stands as a running back. He has the potential to be a good back in the league but he hasn't had the playing time to prove it.
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