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Tag:Rashard Mendenhall
Posted on: January 7, 2012 11:16 am
 

Steelers RB coach's burns not life threatening

Kirby Wilson was burned in a house fire Friday (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

Early Friday morning, Steelers running back coach Kirby Wilson was burned badly in a house fire, and he had to be airlifted from his home in Seven Fields to Pittsburgh.

According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Wilson was burned over 30 to 50 percent of his body, and though his injuries are considered serious, they’re not life-threatening.

"First and foremost our thoughts and prayers are with Kirby and his entire family,” Steelers president Art Rooney said in a statement released Friday. "We are saddened to hear about his unfortunate situation but we know that he has the best medical care in the country treating him. The entire organization is praying for Kirby to have a full recovery and we will be by his side through this difficult time."

The team was told about the fire at Wilson’s townhouse at a meeting Friday morning. The blaze began about 3 a.m. Friday morning. Nobody else was in Wilson’s house.

"He's such a hard-working coach," said Isaac Redman, who’s taken over the No. 1 running back spot since Rashard Mendenhall tore his ACL. "He was always the first guy in the building. He was always here. He takes pride in the running backs.

"He's taken me really from a practice squad running back to a running back that's capable of playing in this league. He had a lot to do with my development of being able to recognize defenses and being a complete professional in how I go about my life every day. It's just really sad to see this happen to him."

That was a sentiment echoed throughout the locker room Friday. Normally, Wilson is on the Steelers sidelines for games. It’s assumed offensive assistant Harold Goodwin will take his place for Sunday’s playoff game vs. the Broncos.

"You start to think more about his family more than anything. I think football is second," Hines Ward said. "All the guys' thoughts and prayers are with Kirby and his family. Everyone on this team is thinking more of his family, his health and well being.

"It's just crazy. Just yesterday we were laughing, and next thing you know, he's in the hospital.”

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Posted on: January 6, 2012 9:32 am
 

Film Room: Broncos vs. Steelers wild-card preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


It hardly seems fair that a 12-win team has to go on the road to face an eight-win team, but the NFL’s playoff seeding system is designed to reward division champions. That includes the rare division champion that enters the postseason on a three-game losing streak.

Here’s a breakdown of what many expect to be a massacre.


1. Broncos offense has no prayer
We covered everything there is to know about the Broncos’ offense last week in preparation for their Week 17 bout with the Chiefs. Nothing has changed. It’s clear that press-man coverage can overwhelm Denver’s passing attack, as the receivers don’t have the quickness to separate and Tim Tebow doesn’t have the mechanics, timing or confidence to fit balls into tight windows.

It’s rare to see the zone-based Steelers play press-man coverage, though they did so with great success against the Patriots in Week 8. Usually, shutdown corner Ike Taylor (yes, SHUTDOWN corner) plays press coverage against the opposing team’s top wideout (in this case, Demaryius Thomas), while William Gay, Keenan Lewis and/or Bryant McFadden play a variation of zone on the other side.

If Dick LeBeau wants to bait Tebow into interceptions, the Steelers may still stick with their traditional approach:

This shot from Super Bowl XLV illustrates the Steelers’ traditional approach to coverage: Ike Taylor playing press-man against the opposing team’s top receiver (Greg Jennings) on one side, with the rest of the secondary playing zone on the other (you can tell it’s zone by how cornerback Bryant McFadden is lined up off the line and with his body open slightly towards the inside).

The Broncos don’t have a threatening tight end, so Tebow would be throwing into heavy zones against athletic corners. If LeBeau wants to pressure Tebow with James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley and bait him into the usual slew of incompletions, he can play man-to-man. Whatever LeBeau chooses will work; we’re talking about the league’s top-ranked pass defense against the league’s most inept passing quarterback.

Lately, Denver’s read-option run game has still produced yardage, though only because of the high volume of carries. If the Broncos couldn’t muster more than three points by running against Kansas City’s 3-4, they can’t be expected to muster ANY points running against Pittsburgh’s.

A key to Denver’s run game is getting offensive linemen clean to inside linebackers. No three-man defensive line does a better job at protecting its inside linebackers than Pittsburgh’s. That’s why Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior are able to play with their ears pinned back.

2. A roll of the dice
Because it feels a little too simplistic to declare the Broncos’ chances at moving the ball to be zero (even if they are), we’ll use this section to present creative ideas for how the Broncos might – MIGHT – manage to muster a semblance of offense on Sunday.

The first idea is to just throw deep and hope luck tilts your way (a cornerback falls down, a ref calls pass interference, two Steelers collide while going after the same easy interception, etc.). Don’t count on Denver doing this, though. It goes against everything John Fox has stood for since turning to Tebow, and it also requires that, you know, Tebow actually throw downfield accurately.

Another idea is to draw up trick plays. Lots of trick plays. Problem is, a defense as experienced and disciplined as Pittsburgh’s is not going to bite. You might make chance-taker Troy Polamalu pay for a gamble once or twice, but more likely he’ll make YOU pay even more for YOUR gamble.

A third (and stronger) idea is to run the ball outside. In the past, outside running was guaranteed to fail against the Steelers. This season, however, Timmons and Farrior have not been as sharp in lateral run defense. That’s why Pittsburgh has struggled a bit against zone teams. The Broncos no longer have a zone run game (it left shortly after Shanahan departed), but it might not be crazy to hastily install one given that their usual approach will not work anyway.

Denver’s lack of running back speed is an issue here, but again: their usual approach will not work anyway!

3. Pittsburgh’s passing attack
As lopsided as this matchup seems, the final score could be tight given that Pittsburgh’s offense might have trouble against John Fox’s and Dennis Allen’s defense. Don’t be surprised if the Steelers come out throwing in an effort to build a quick lead that forces the Broncos to go to the air early.
 
Against the Browns last week, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians chose to spread the field with 3 x 2 empty backfield sets on passing downs. This may have been to get the ball out quickly so that Ben Roethlisberger would not have to make plays on his bum ankle. Though Roethlisberger has gotten much better in his presnap reads and sudden decision making, his natural inclination is still to extend the play. Thus, Big Ben still held the ball plenty long last week.

He won’t be able to do that this week, though – not under the same gameplan, anyway. Offensive tackles Max Starks and Marcus Gilbert may have been be able to handle Browns defensive ends Jayme Mitchell and Jabaal Sheard on an island (Sheard just barely, actually), but they won’t have a snowball’s chance against Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller.

If Roethlisberger is to buy time for his receivers downfield, his offensive tackles will need running backs and tight ends to chip-block, if not stay in completely and double-team. Something else to keep in mind: Miller, D.J. Williams and Brian Dawkins all excel as inside blitzers. Blitz pickup is an area in which the Steelers interior line, particularly left guard Chris Kemoeatu, struggles.

Brown's emerged as one of Pittsburgh's best receiving options. (Getty Images)

4. The passing matchups
Even though protection could be a problem, it’s possible the Steelers will still spread the field and let Roethlisberger run around and make plays. We’ve seen them before give up piles of sacks this way but make up for it with big plays.

The Broncos have a good secondary now that undrafted rookie Chris Harris has blossomed at nickel corner, but they’re thin and inexperienced at safety and vulnerable with Jonathan Wilhite at dime corner.

If the Broncos decide to eliminate Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh’s new No. 1 receiver) with Champ Bailey, there will be big-play opportunities for Mike Wallace against the limited-ranged safeties. If Bailey defends Wallace, Andre Goodman can spar with Brown but probably not for as long as Roethlisberger can extend the play. Chris Harris will be tested by Emmanuel Sanders’ speed, and Wilhite will have fits trying to defend Jerricho Cotchery underneath.

As much as the Broncos might like their secondary, they can’t expect it to be the league’s first unit that sustains coverage against the Steelers’ prolonged improvisational plays. Thus, when the Broncos do blitz, don’t be surprised if they bring the kitchen sink to ensure that Roethlisberger goes down or throws hot.

5. Steelers run game
Rashard Mendenhall will be missed, but the Steelers can tread water with Isaac Redman. The third-year running back doesn’t have Mendenhall’s corner-turning speed and acceleration, but in confined areas he shows looser hips than you’d guess. Where Pittsburgh’s backfield woes will really show up is in the pass game. Mewelde Moore’s absence (foot injury) leaves them without a prominent openfield dumpoff receiver.

But this is a relatively minor issue. The primary job of the Steelers’ backfield is to pound the rock when called upon, which Redman and straight-line back John Clay are capable of doing. Also, Pittsburgh’s offensive line, especially with the superb pull-blocking skills of Kemoeatu, is capable of moving the pile down the stretch.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all the wild-card games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: January 4, 2012 4:04 pm
 

Ben Roethlisberger 'tweaked' ankle against Browns

Roethlisberger "tweaked" his ankle on Sunday. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The Steelers took a gamble on Sunday against the Browns when they ran Ben Roethlisberger out to play on a high-ankle sprain, hoping the Ravens would lose and Pittsburgh would win the AFC North.

The Ravens did not lose. And in worse news, according to our Steelers Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder, Roethlisberger "tweaked" his ankle in the win over Cleveland and suffered a "setback" in advance of Pittsburgh's wild-card game in Denver on Sunday.

"I felt pretty good going in and moved around pretty good," Roethlisberger said. "[But] we got set back about a week. I don't know if I hit the ground wrong or got hit. We'll be all right."

Now, this is Ben Roethlisberger, so injuries don't mean as much as they would with any other player. I'm sorry, but the dude just plays hurt (and sometimes better when he's injured).

But this gets back to the point of risking him on the field: the Steelers, over the final three weeks, didn't play things conservatively enough at all. Putting him on the field against San Francisco was worth the risk, but not leaving him out there. Sitting him against the Rams was smart. And leaving him on the bench against the Browns would've been the wise move too, even if the Bengals had a shot at unseating the Ravens. Charlie Batch couldn't have gone 23 for 40 for 221 yards? He probably could have.

Whatever, his ankle's worse off now for playing. That means, without their top running back, the Steelers have to figure out how to protect Roethlisberger against a ferocious Broncos pass rush.

Denver recorded 41 sacks in 2011 (10th in the league; just nine behind the Vikings and Eagles) and the best example of what could happen against a good defense who can rush the passer is the loss to the 49ers.

In that game, Roethlisberger wasn't mobile, was constantly under attack and the Steelers struggled to move the ball. Granted, the 49ers are just a flat-out sick defense, but the Broncos are pretty good too.

For Pittsburgh to avoid a shocking upset at Mile High on Sunday, they'll need to make sure their gameplan doesn't involve Von Miller putting Ben on his back. Or worse, on his ankle.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 4:24 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 4:34 pm
 

Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall has torn ACL

Pittsburgh will be without Mendenhall for the postseason. (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

The Steelers will face the Broncos in Sunday's wild-card game without their starting running back. Rashard Mendenhall, the team's 2008 first-round pick, has a torn ACL, according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Head coach Mike Tomlin hinted after Sunday's win over the Browns that Mendenhall could be out for some time and tests have confirmed those fears.

Now Pittsburgh will lean heavily on Isaac Redman, and undrafted rookie free agent John Clay, who didn't get his first carry until Week 16 against the Rams. Veteran Mewelde Moore could also be an option if he has recovered from a knee injury suffered in San Francisco two weeks ago. 

Prior to the regular-season finale in Cleveland, the biggest injury issue for the Steelers centered around the health of their franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben suffered a high-ankle sprain three weeks ago during the first meeting between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. He limped his way through a loss against the 49ers but sat out last week's victory over the Rams.

In addition to Mendenhall, Pittsburgh could also be without cornerbacks Cortez Allen and Keenan Lewis, who suffered shoulder and hamstring injuries, respectively, in Cleveland. Safety Ryan Clark may also miss the Broncos game because of sickle-cell trait that is triggered when he plays football at high altitudes. His status will be decided later in the week.


Pittsburgh Steelers' running back, Isaac Redman, carried the ball 19 times for 92 yards and a touchdown in a 13-9 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Join CBS Sports' Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots for a recap of all the action.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 1, 2012 8:38 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 8:40 pm
 

Report: Rashard Mendenhall may have torn ACL


Pittsburgh Steelers' running back, Isaac Redman, carried the ball 19 times for 92 yards and a touchdown in a 13-9 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Join CBS Sports' Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots for a recap of all the action.

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The biggest injury issue for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they headed into their Week 17 matchup with the Browns centered around the health of their franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben suffered a high-ankle sprain three weeks ago during the first meeting between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. He limped his way through a Week 15 loss in San Francisco but sat out last week's victory over the Rams.

With playoff seedings on the line, Pittsburgh started Roethlisberger, who played the entire game without setbacks. The same can't be said for running back Rashard Mendenhall, who left in the first quarter with a knee injury. During the post-game press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that Mendenhall may have a torn ACL and likely wouldn't be available when the Steelers travel to Denver to face the Broncos in the wild-card round next weekend. According to ProFootballTalk.com, the team will perform an MRI Monday.

That means Pittsburgh will lean heavily on Isaac Redman, who came down with a sudden case of the fumbles in Cleveland (he lost two fourth-quarter fumbles that kept the Browns in the game) and rookie undrafted free agent John Clay. Veteran Mewelde Moore could also be an option if he has recovered from a knee injury suffered in San Francisco.

Tomlin isn't one to make excuses, instead choosing to say things like "the standard is the standard." Which means that whoever lines up behind Roethlisberger will be expected to do their job, whether that's running the ball, catching passes out of the backfield, or blocking on third down.

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 12:17 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 12:19 am
 

Injury not enough to stop Roethlisberger in win

A high-ankle sprain wasn't enough to keep Roethlisberger from playing the 2nd half against Cleveland. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

For the fourth time in five seasons, head coach Mike Tomlin has the Steelers at 9-3. On Thursday night, however, it required something more than your typical Ben Roethlisberger performance. On most nights, that means holding the ball too long in the pocket, fighting off would-be tacklers, taking more hits than anybody should be able to take, and making plays. On most nights, he comes out the other side bruised but no worse for wear.

Against the Browns, it was a different story, one that takes Big Ben, football player, from cult hero to legend in the span of the halftime intermission. With 6:02 to go in the second quarter with the Steelers leading, 7-3, two Cleveland defender made a Roethlisberger sandwich, and he turned his ankle badly in the process.

Big Ben, in obvious pain and unable to put weight on his left leg, needed two Steelers' assistants to help him to the tunnel, where he took a cart to the locker room. Charlie Batch, who has started for Roethlisberger six times since 2004, played two series before the half.

Roethlisberger-ankle_medium

And then, minutes after NFL Network's Alex Flanagan reported that the Steelers had "positive" news about Roethlisberger's ankle injury, Big Ben, with his ankle heavily taped, limped out onto the field to begin the second half and didn't miss another snap.

Pittsburgh leaned heavily on Rashard Mendenhall to start the second half and he averaged 5.5 yards per carry. But the Steelers are a passing team, even with a one-legged quarterback. So that's what they did … even with a one-legged quarterback.

By the time it was over, Roethlisberger was 16 of 21 for 280 yards and two touchdowns, the last a 79-yarder to Antonio Brown with 2:52 remaining to put the game away for good.

For the Browns, it was more of the same: an offense unable to score points, protect the quarterback or avoid dropped passes in critical situations. Colt McCoy ended the game 18 of 35 for 209 yards but threw two interceptions, the back-breaker coming two plays before Roethlisberger-to-Brown broke the game wide open. A pass into the end zone intended for Mohamed Massaquoi was intercepted by William Gay.

A touchdown there would have given Cleveland a 10-7 lead with three minutes on the clock. Instead, Pittsburgh got the ball at the 20, still leading 7-3, and in the time it took cornerback Joe Haden to fall down, Brown hauled in a Big Ben pass and streaked 79 yards down the sideline.

After the game, Tomlin said Roethlisberger has a high-ankle sprain, but unlike just about anybody else on the planet, it wasn't enough to keep him on the sidelines.

"The doctor said he was okay to go, he wanted to go," said Tomlin. "I'll always give him an opportunity to show what he's capable of. We know what kind of competitor he is, we know his pain tolerance, we know what he's capable of."

Brown, quickly becoming one of Big Ben's favorite targets, called Roethlisberger's return to start the second half "rejuvenating."

"The guy exemplifies toughness … we needed him out there and it was exciting to have him back," he continued. "He persevered through the situation and made the plays we needed to win the game."

The Steelers now have 10 days off to prepare for a Monday-night matchup against the 49ers, and if Thursday night was any indication, Big Ben will be on the field in San Francisco.

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 11:01 am
 

Film Room: Steelers vs. Patriots preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



The Patriots are known for their offense. The Steelers are known for their defense. But the other side of the ball is just as intriguing. Here are five keys to Pittsburgh’s offense against New England’s defense.


1. Understanding the REAL Steelers
It’s amazing: we still hear so-called experts refer to the Steelers as a black-and-blue, ground-and-pound offense. Usually a phrase like “getting back to their roots” or “playing true Steeler ball” accompanies this embarrassing misnomer. The people who think of today’s Steelers as run-oriented are the same people who stopped renting movies once the video cassette tape disappeared.

They’re the same people who still worry about the cost of a cross-country phone call, or who think that the best way to make a statement is to send a letter to their local newspaper.

The Steelers are a passing team. This isn’t to say that they can’t or won’t run. In fact, their run-pass ratio is about as normal as it gets. Over the last four years, in games that Ben Roethlisberger has played, the Steelers have called a run play 43.1 percent of the time and a pass play 56.9 percent of the time. The league average is 43.6 percent run and 56.4 percent pass. When the Steelers are protecting a lead, they squeeze the air out of the ball. But when they’re trying to establish a lead, they throw.

The Steelers have put the ball in the air 84.4 percent of the time on third down. This suggests either a.) They are not running effectively (hence, they’ve faced a lot of third-and-long situations) or b.) When they need a money play, they trust their pass game more than their run game. They’re lining up like a passing team, too. So far Ben Roethlisberger has attempted 159 passes out of three-or four-receiver formations. He’s attempted just 21 passes out of two-receiver formations.

This season, the Steelers’ decision to transform into more of a downfield offense was a conscious one. In 2010 they drafted a speed-and-quickness wideout in the third round (Emmanuel Sanders) and a power runner in the fifth (Jonathan Dwyer). They did the same in 2009, drafting Mike Wallace in the third round and Frank Summers in the fifth. These moves were made after it was confirmed that ’08 first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall was an everydown back with a slight predilection for finesse over power.

But the main inspiration behind these moves was the guy under center.

2. Ben Roethlisberger
He’s often not described this way, but Roethlisberger is the most physically gifted quarterback in the AFC – if not all of pro football (it’s a whole other discussion, but strong arguments could be made for Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton or Michael Vick).

Everyone praises Roethlisberger for having the strength to shed would-be sackers before throwing. But what’s more remarkable – and not talked about – is the quality of those throws. Roethlisberger throws off balance and under duress with unparalleled velocity and accuracy.

Very little about his game is fundamentally sound. His footwork is flawed. His balance is poor. His mechanics are okay but often irrelevant given that the majority of his drop-backs turn into sandlot improvs. The reason he’s a sandlot player is because he does not read the field well (if at all) before the snap. For most quarterbacks, this would be a crippling weakness. For Roethlisberger, it’s a strength. He actually prefers to react to a defense rather than dictate the terms.

Roethlisberger might sense a blitz presnap and, like just about any quarterback, make a few tweaks to his protection or receivers’ routes. More often, though, he’d rather just take the snap, actually see the blitz coming and make his own adjustments on the fly.

If any other quarterbacks played this way, they’d look like JaMarcus Russell (a sorry sap who actually did try to play this way). Roethlisberger has the physical talent and uncanny instincts to pull it off.

3. Defending Big Ben & Co.
The brilliance behind Roethlisberger’s unusual style is that it’s hard to gameplan against. It’s not unusual to see a defense strategically defeat the Steelers offense yet still get beat for a big play. Defensive strategies are based on disrupting the quarterback’s fundamentals and progressions. But what do you do when the quarterback does not rely on fundamentals or even progression reads?

But if it were as simple as just playing basic, fundamentally sound defense, every team would do that. Most teams, however, don’t have the resources to contain Pittsburgh’s weapons straight-up. Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown are bourgeoning inside receivers who have the quickness to separate from man-coverage and a great feel for locating the deep voids against zones (a critical attribute given the way Roethlisberger extends plays).

Outside, the lanky, long-striding Mike Wallace is the most lethal downfield threat in the game. These are wideouts who make you think twice about bringing a safety down in the box. Though the Steelers aren’t the run-first team they once were, they’re certainly capable of pounding a seven-man defensive front on the ground.

Thus, the most viable (and common) way to defend Roethlisberger & Co. is to attack their offensive line. You want to force Roethlisberger into sandlot tactics early in the down rather than let him extend the play. That way, his teammates don’t have time to execute their assignments. The limited timing naturally diminishes the threat of Wallace over the top and allows defensive backs to gamble more against Sanders and Brown.

Aiding this cause is the vulnerability of Pittsburgh’s front five. Left tackle Max Starks was out of football less than one month ago. Left guard Chris Kemoeatu has battled a knee injury and was awful in pass protection in his return last week. Right guard Ramon Foster is an undrafted backup (filling in for injured Doug Legursky) and right tackle Marcus Gilbert is an intriguing-but-still-youthful rookie.

4. How Belichick will attack
Belichick’s M.O. is to take away the opposing offense’s top two strengths. This obviously would mean preventing Roethlisberger from extending plays and eliminating Wallace’s deep routes. The Patriots did this last season in their Week 10 victory at Pittsburgh by blitzing like crazy (the Steelers had been struggling at the time with blitz pickups).

However, this season, Patriots linebackers have been poor in blitz execution. Also, the Pats have been more inclined to use a four-man pass-rush out of nickel packages.

We’ve seen Belichick do a 180-degree change in defensive gameplans from one week to the next plenty before, and anything’s possible when he’s coming off a bye. But given the way the Steeler guards struggle in pass protection, don’t be surprised if Albert Haynesworth finally gets significant playing time as a three-technique next to Vince Wilfork.

That’s a combination the Steelers simply wouldn’t be able to block. The Patriots could have their ho-hum ends play containment, which would keep Roethlisberger in the pocket facing pressure right up the middle. He’d still manage some sandlot plays, but he’d also be throwing into seven-man coverages, which could spell turnovers. The Patriots like to compensate for their vulnerable secondary by generating interceptions (last season they ranked 30th in pass yards allowed but first in interceptions).

5. Miscellaneous note
Jerod Mayo, who has been out since injuring his knee in Week 4, is far and away New England’s best linebacker. If he’s available Sunday, the Patriots would have more options for containing Roethlisberger (Mayo reads the field well and has good awareness in coverage). Not surprisingly, Belichick isn’t disclosing Mayo’s status.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 8 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: October 9, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: October 9, 2011 10:35 am
 

Mendenhall status unclear, might be reserve today

Whether Rashard Mendenhall plays or not, Isaac Redman looks to get the start. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Heading into the season, the Steelers were favorites to win the AFC North. After a month, they're 2-2, the defense is reeling, and the injury report continues to grow.

And there might be another name on the list (though it appears to be written in pencil). Sources tell ESPN's Josina Anderson that running back Rashard Mendenhall won't play Sunday against the Titans. Meanwhile, NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reports that Mendenhall hasn't yet been ruled out and could play a reserve role.

The Sunday-morning injury report lists Mendenhall as questionable. Either way, with third-down Mewelde Moore out, Isaac Redman will start and Jonathan Dwyer, the team's 2010 sixth-round pick, will also see time.

During his weekly press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin said that the team hoped to have Mendenhall available Sunday, and in the event that he couldn't go, there was the possibility of signing rookie running back John Clay from the practice squad. As of this morning, no roster moves had been announced, which could indicate that Mendenhall will, in fact, dress. Otherwise, the Steelers will have just two running backs active against the Titans.

Whatever the running back situation, Pittsburgh's list of walking wounded is extensive. On defense, James Harrison and his backup Jason Worlids are out, as are Casey Hampton and Aaron Smith. On offense, right tackle Willie Colon was placed on injured reserve after Week 1, left guard Chris Kemoeatu is out, and left tackle Jonathan Scott likely won't play for the second consecutive week. Which means that Max Starts, signed off his couch earlier this week, could be the team's starting left tackle against Tennessee. Starks last played in an NFL game in November 2010.

Oh, yeah, and the team's most important player, Ben Roethlisberger, will be playing with a sprained left foot.


The Tennessee Titans look to continue their hot streak as they prepare to travel to Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. NFL.com's Pat Kirwan joins Jason Horowitz to preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 1 PM ET.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com