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Old 11-12-2009, 04:11 AM   #1
Galax Steeler
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Default Mendenhall responds to Tomlin

Thursday, November 12, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Some players do not respond well when embarrassed publicly, benched for a game and called out by the head coach for not practicing well.

One of them was not Rashard Mendenhall.

Mike Tomlin apparently pushed another right button when he did not play his young running back on offense in Cincinnati Sept. 27. The coach cited this as his reason after that game, a 23-20 Steelers loss: "Rashard wasn't on his details this week, so I chose not to play him on offense."

Imagine how Larry Johnson or Allen Iverson might react to that kind of public humbling. Mendenhall responded by not only paying attention to details but starting the past five games and helping the Steelers to five consecutive victories by averaging 105.6 yards rushing per game during that stretch.

Running backs drafted in the first round might be excused if they complained about a benching; Walter Abercrombie once accused his coaches of abandoning the running game when he felt he was not getting enough carries, and that was with Chuck Noll as coach.

"I have a level of respect for Tomlin and the way he does things," Mendenhall explained yesterday. "He's very fair, honest and straightforward. With that alone, being negative about it is not going to help things. Learn a lesson from it and move forward, that's what I tried to do."

He has moved so far forward to be in a tie for fifth among AFC backs with 573 yards rushing. His 5.7 yards per carry are second in the NFL only to league-leader Chris Johnson (6.7) among those who have at least 20 carries. His seven runs for 20 yards or more are tied for third in the NFL.

Instead of rebelling after what could have been a humiliation in the third game of his second season, Mendenhall

took Tomlin's lesson to heart.

"It kind of heightened my awareness and the level of seriousness of how everything's run here, still being young and figuring things out," Mendenhall said. "It was a lesson and kind of helped me in my career."

That was how Tomlin intended it.

"It was not punitive in nature," the coach said after practice yesterday. "You have to educate. He's a young guy, he's got a lot of talent, and I think so far so good. That was the intent -- more detailed preparation, more attention to detail. For a young guy, not only does it prepare him, but it instills confidence in him from coaches and from other people in the huddle."

Those others in the huddle have noticed, particularly a couple of offensive linemen.

"I think it definitely had an effect on him," said center Justin Hartwig. "The natural response is if somebody's telling you you're not doing your job well enough, you're going to do something to step up and show you are ready to do the job. I think he probably prepared a little bit harder, and he made the most of things."

Added tackle Willie Colon, "I think he's answered the bell. I think he understood that nobody's job is safe. You're accountable for your actions, you have to be ready when they call you. I think when Mike did that, it was kind of a wake-up call to him, especially that everybody kind of realized it, too. He's doing a great job, he's grown and we're proud of him."
Clark would have played

If it were left up to Ryan Clark, he would have played in Denver Monday night, but he said he is happy Tomlin made that decision for him.

"I would have played," Clark said. "That just means he's smarter than I am because, obviously, I'm standing here right now."

Clark said he learned of Tomlin's decision late in the week but had an inkling of it when he did not take many repetitions with the first-team defense in practice.

"I appreciated the fact that he did take it out of my hands. It kind of gave me a way to breathe either way. I didn't feel like I was cleared to play and I just chose not to because coach Tomlin made the decision, and also if I do play and get sick I couldn't live with that, either."

Clark did exert himself in pregame drills Monday, running sprints and other exercises so doctors could test his body's reaction. He said he passed all those tests.

"No ill effects at all," Clark said. "Worked out before the game, got a lot of tests run just so we could have more information how my body would react without a spleen and a gall bladder."

And if the Steelers have to go to Denver for a playoff game, what then?

"I'm not sure," Clark said. "We haven't really talked about it, but we won the game, so I don't plan on us going out there anyway. We're just going to try to win the rest of them, so I don't have to go out there and play."

Tyrone Carter, who replaced Clark at free safety, was named yesterday as the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. Carter intercepted two Kyle Orton passes and returned one for a 48-yard touchdown.
Colon defends Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger said nothing new in ESPN's E:60 show Tuesday night about the sexual-assault civil case filed against him that he did not say at his news conference in July, but it nevertheless brought the subject to the locker room again.

"People understand he has a mother, he has an aunt, he has cousins, he has female family members," Colon said, "so to put something like that [sexual assault] on his name ... I don't know what happened. I'm going to ride with him and believe it didn't happen. But, despite whatever happened, that's still a knock on him. As an elite quarterback as he is and as much as he means to the sports world, to have that kind of tarnish his name is hurtful. I know as much as he [says] it doesn't, I think it does hurt him. For the most part, all I can do is be there for him as a friend and whatever he needs me to kind of help him get through it, I'm going to do ...

"I think if anything it kind of motivated him to kind of push through it and be there for us. Sundays are kind of an escape for him to kind of escape the madness. Off the field, he knows I'm here for him and on the field I have his back no matter what."
Injury update

Linebacker Lawrence Timmons returned to practice yesterday for the first time since his right ankle was sprained Oct. 25 against the Minnesota Vikings.

Defensive end Travis Kirschke, though, did not practice. He has not practiced since his left calf muscle was torn Oct. 25.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09316/1012860-66.stm
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Old 11-12-2009, 05:25 AM   #2
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Default Re: Mendenhall responds to Tomlin

Quote:
Linebacker Lawrence Timmons returned to practice yesterday for the first time since his right ankle was sprained Oct. 25 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Looks like we'll be fully loaded for the Bang-gals this time.

And how about that Coach T......... I love that guy more and more every day. I never doubted he was the right choice and he certainlyb was. Eat your heart out, Cleveland!
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:49 AM   #3
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Default Re: Mendenhall responds to Tomlin

Good to see that Mendy seems to be a mature young man who learned a valuable lesson from his ride on the pine. I always loved Cowher, but Tomlin is as cool as a cuke when "disciplining" his players. He doesn't go postal on 'em - he simply schools 'em. I loved Tomlin from his first press conference in the Burgh and that admiration and respect has only grown stronger and become deeper with each passing season.
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Old 11-12-2009, 09:59 AM   #4
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Default Re: Mendenhall responds to Tomlin

Mendy has really matured into his own.
He is the real deal! Just protect the football and the sky's the limit for this guy.
I love his running style. The Steeler's running game this year is SO much better than
last season. As is the passing game. The only thing that can hold them back from
going deep in the playoffs is BA himself!
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Old 11-12-2009, 10:08 AM   #5
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Default Re: Mendenhall responds to Tomlin

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Originally Posted by HometownGal View Post
Good to see that Mendy seems to be a mature young man who learned a valuable lesson from his ride on the pine. I always loved Cowher, but Tomlin is as cool as a cuke when "disciplining" his players. He doesn't go postal on 'em - he simply schools 'em. I loved Tomlin from his first press conference in the Burgh and that admiration and respect has only grown stronger and become deeper with each passing season.
Nice words HTG Steelers FO did a great job by handling the HC job to Mr. Tomlin, and he's responding amazingly
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Old 11-12-2009, 10:20 AM   #6
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Default Re: Mendenhall responds to Tomlin

Interesting debate to have about the Mendy-benching in the first game against Cincy.

If he had played, do you think we would have won? And if so, would we he have gone on to help us to win five straight?

I was just pondering this and I'm not sure, really. Despite having some preparation problems for the Cincy game, I think he probably could have helped Pittsburgh get the running game going in the second half, when Willie appeared to have run out of gas. If so, we might have held onto our lead.

BUT if we had won there, would Mendy have been so well-prepared for what followed? If Tomlin hadn't laid down the law, would he have have sharpened his game? One could argue that Mendy's performance against the Chargers was largely bolstered by San Diego's weak defense... but take a look at when Rashard did last week against Denver's tough D. Would he have been able to do that sans some extra motivation?

I guess it doesn't matter, especially if we win (and I believe that we will) on Sunday. We're looking much better on both sides of the ball than we did in week 3... and even then we only lost by three points. But it's an interesting thing to ponder.
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Old 11-12-2009, 12:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: Mendenhall responds to Tomlin

Quote:
Originally Posted by HometownGal View Post
Good to see that Mendy seems to be a mature young man who learned a valuable lesson from his ride on the pine. I always loved Cowher, but Tomlin is as cool as a cuke when "disciplining" his players. He doesn't go postal on 'em - he simply schools 'em. I loved Tomlin from his first press conference in the Burgh and that admiration and respect has only grown stronger and become deeper with each passing season.
Totally agree HTG! Well said!

It sure is assuring to know we have such an incredible individual coaching our team!
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: Mendenhall responds to Tomlin

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steelers>NFL View Post
Mendy has really matured into his own.
He is the real deal! Just protect the football and the sky's the limit for this guy.
I love his running style. The Steeler's running game this year is SO much better than
last season. As is the passing game. The only thing that can hold them back from
going deep in the playoffs is BA himself!
I utterly disagree with that comment
i guess we cant go a thread with out bashing him
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:33 PM   #9
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Default Re: Mendenhall responds to Tomlin

Back in Week 3, The Steelers were just as potent on offense as they were now. They just have had trouble scoring and finishing games on offense and defense. Now we're doing that.

If the Bengals want this division, they're going to have to earn it. I doubt the Steelers are going to outbungle them this time.
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:35 PM   #10
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Default Re: Mendenhall responds to Tomlin

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Originally Posted by Steelers>NFL View Post
The only thing that can hold them back from
going deep in the playoffs is BA himself!
Yep, we could have gone so much further last season with a better OC.
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