View Full Version : Mendenhall prepares for starting role

09-26-2008, 01:01 AM
Mendenhall prepares for starting role
By John Harris
Thursday, September 25, 2008
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 89961.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_589961.html)

Just another day on the South Side for Steelers rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall.

Line up with the first team for an entire practice for the first time in the absence of starter and two-time Pro Bowler Willie Parker, who is sidelined with a knee injury.

Prepare for his first NFL start, which just happens to be on "Monday Night Football."

And, despite limited work in the Steelers' first three games, strap it on against the Baltimore Ravens (2-0), who rank No. 1 in the league in total defense and haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 21 consecutive games.

Mendenhall is the first rookie to start at halfback for the Steelers since George Jones in the final game of the 1997 season.

"This is prime time -- it's hard to throw a guy in a Monday night game like this, especially against Baltimore," right guard Kendall Simmons said. "You're going to get hit, talked about and everything else. Got to be ready for it. Can't back down."

Mendenhall said he won't be.

"I'm ready," he said.

Armed with a new running style -- he is carrying the ball higher to prevent fumbles, a la Tiki Barber -- Mendenhall talked about making his first pro start against linebacker Ray Lewis and the Ravens.

"I'm definitely excited; regular nerves, like any other game," Mendenhall said before Wednesday's practice. "You try to put it all aside and prepare for this game just the same.

"Like Coach (Mike Tomlin) says: Whatever happens, the standard of expectation doesn't change."

With Parker receiving the majority of carries before his injury, Mendenhall has only 10 carries for 28 yards and hasn't logged a carry in the past two games. He has been used primarily on the kickoff team, where he has six returns for a 19.2-yard average.

"I'm not concerned," Mendenhall said of his relative inactivity. "I had a lot of experience in the preseason."

"I think he'll do fine.," right tackle Willie Colon said. "He's a mature kid, just how he handles himself around here. The key for him is just never back down. They're going to come after him."

For some, the biggest concern may be how well Mendenhall handles the football. He had two fumbles in the preseason. That, along with Parker's quick start, contributed to Mendenhall's early inactivity.

"It's just a matter of making him aware of what he needs to be aware of," Colon said. "And that's holding on to the rock."

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432

09-26-2008, 12:11 PM
The next 2 weeks are Mendy's opportununity to show us something.

Let's hope he has such a good success that we have a Running Back controversy.

09-26-2008, 12:20 PM
The next 2 weeks are Mendy's opportununity to show us something.

Let's hope he has such a good success that we have a Running Back controversy.

Now your talkin' MJG.
I have been thinking the same thing ever since I heard FWP was down.

09-29-2008, 01:52 AM
He had two fumbles in the preseason.

Or three fumbles. Whatever. You can't expect sportswriters to actually sit through all of those preseason games, can you? Or be able to use google, for that matter. :roll: