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fordfixer
01-31-2009, 03:20 AM
Mendenhall reacquainted with team Steelers rookie returns to fold
Saturday, January 31, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09031/945958-66.stm

TAMPA, Fla. -- There has been no trouble finding Rashard Mendenhall the past week. He has worn his white No. 34 jersey every day for each Steelers media interview session and hung out with his teammates, at last.

Some of those players had said privately they wanted Mendenhall to come around more often during the season, even though the rookie running back could not play. He went on injured reserve after a big hit by Ray Lewis broke his shoulder in the fourth game of the season.

His teammates wondered, where in the world was Rashard Mendenhall? Turns out, he did not feel comfortable just hanging around them every day when he could not practice or play.

"It's hard, it's frustrating to be around and not be able to play," the Steelers' 2008 first-round draft choice said. "That's part of it, you know what I mean? Just being on IR, you have time to be as strong as you were but at the same time you're not as part of it as you want to be."

The same holds true this week. He has enjoyed the Super Bowl experience but feels detached from it.

"It's cool, it's just hard. Anybody who's been on IR and watched the Super Bowl will tell you how hard it is to not be able to be out there. I'm so proud of these guys, to be part of this team and everything. It's just hard to be a competitor and not be able to compete."

His shoulder healed without surgery, and he has been following his rehabilitation schedule, slowly adding weight in his lifting routine, which he has done at the Steelers' training facility.

"I spend time there and I also take time to take care of family things and stuff at home," Mendenhall explained. "I went to the inauguration in D.C. It was cool. I take advantage of stuff like that. I was among the mass of millions. I went down with a friend of mine in college."

Bruce Arians, the team's offensive coordinator, said Mendenhall has been around the team enough and that he has followed the routine laid out for him.

"I saw him plenty enough. It's hard on a young kid when all of this is thrown at you and then, boom, you're out of it. One of the reasons I wanted to see him more was to make sure he was OK."

Mendenhall also made some trips, and he has followed Willie Parker a little more often the past week.

"Down the stretch, traveling with the team, he needed to see Baltimore," Arians said. "He doesn't need to go to Baltimore for the first time next year. And let him learn and watch Willie, and Willie's had his arm around him a bunch this week because the kid's going to be a great player."

That is why the Steelers drafted Mendenhall with the 23rd choice. He ran for 1,681 yards at Illinois in 2007 with a 6.4-yard average. Although his stats were modest in his brief play with the Steelers -- 58 yards, a 3.1-yard average -- Mendenhall showed the players and coaches enough through training camp until his injury in his first start, Arians said.

"When he played, he flashed what we thought we had. He looks like a beast now when he's dressed out. Watching him run out there a month ago, I looked out the window and I said, 'Who the heck is that? Oh, it's Rashard.' He was looking at full speed."

Tomorrow will end Mendenhall's bittersweet rookie season. He'll watch the Super Bowl with his teammates from the sideline. Come about March, he hopes to be back on equal footing with them.

"I'll be up and back full in the spring," Mendenhall said. "It's another chance to get on the grass. I'm looking forward to it. My plans haven't changed at all, just put on hold."
Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com.
First published on January 31, 2009 at 12:00 am

Mister Pittsburgh
01-31-2009, 11:22 AM
I hope this is a sign of good news and he will be 100% next spring. It will definately be nice to have him in the RB fold for next year. And hopefully he has the offense down pat. I think he could bring a whole new dimension to the run game. I think he is the perfect blend of Willie & Mewelde, which is exactly what this team needs. I think having a RB on the field that can run OR catch on any down, and not just a rb that can catch on third down.

SteelHead
01-31-2009, 11:27 AM
It's really a shame what happened to Mendy. Let's hope it was a total freak injury and not a sign to come of his "fragility". A few weeks ago I watched the 1st couple games from this year that he played in that I had saved on my DVR and I almost forgot how good the kid looked. He ran with nice vision , explosion through the hole , and good shiftiness and speed for a bigger back. Adding Mendy back into the mix next year will really help our run game IMHO.

Mister Pittsburgh
01-31-2009, 11:34 AM
It's really a shame what happened to Mendy. Let's hope it was a total freak injury and not a sign to come of his "fragility". A few weeks ago I watched the 1st couple games from this year that he played in that I had saved on my DVR and I almost forgot how good the kid looked. He ran with nice vision , explosion through the hole , and good shiftiness and speed for a bigger back. Adding Mendy back into the mix next year will really help our run game IMHO.

By next year he could be around 230. I mentioned he would be the perfect blend of Willie & Mewelde, but you could also throw Russell in there as Mendy will run with some pop....as long as his shoulder doesn't blow out. I bet they have him doing all kinds of shoulder lifting and exercises. He will probably have shoulders like cannonballs by the time next year rolls around.

AngryAsian
01-31-2009, 12:10 PM
This team is stacked at the RB position. Parker, Mendy, Moore, and Russell... other teams would kill to have such talent in their backfield. Something a lot of people forget about Mendy, coming out of college, he was sought after not only for his legs but for his skills in the passing game.

Steeler Shades
01-31-2009, 12:31 PM
Something a lot of people forget about Mendy, coming out of college, he was sought after not only for his legs but for his skills in the passing game.
Can he catch better than Parker? 8)

Mel Blount's G
01-31-2009, 01:08 PM
I'm so glad to hear this. I can't wait to see him get the rock next year. It's like we'll have TWO #1 draft picks to check outrsince we hardly saw him at all this year. There is still the outside chance this this guy could be something very special in the league. I'm excited, We just need to solidify our o-line a bit and look out....

Mister Pittsburgh
01-31-2009, 03:42 PM
Let's hope he also worked on his grip so he doesn't cough up the pill like he was.

100$handshake
01-31-2009, 03:56 PM
Something a lot of people forget about Mendy, coming out of college, he was sought after not only for his legs but for his skills in the passing game.
Can he catch better than Parker? 8)


The chick in your sig can catch better than Parker !

Bandito
02-02-2009, 05:35 AM
I hope he has a Pro Bowl year next season. I just don't recall seeing him on the sideline in the Superbowl.