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fordfixer
09-10-2010, 11:41 PM
Mendenhall wants to dance through, over and around defenders

By: Mike Bires, Times Sports Staff
Beaver County Times

Thursday September 9, 2010 02:16 PM
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sport ... nders.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1424/2010/september/09/mendenhall-wants-to-dance-through-over-and-around-defenders.html)

PITTSBURGH -- Rashard Mendenhall doesn’t plan on appearing on “Dancing with the Stars” anytime soon. All he wants to do is boogie his way through opposing defenses starting Sunday.

To help him be the best running back he can be, Mendenhall put himself through an exhaustive off-season program that including weight lifting, running and dancing.

Yes, dancing.

For the second straight year, Mendenhall took dance classes as a way to improve his balance and body control.

“I started doing it after I was hurt two years ago,” said Mendenhall, the Steelers’ first-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. “I wanted to do something to keep me moving around.”

In the fourth game of his rookie year, Mendenhall got to start against Baltimore because Willie Parker was out with a knee injury. But in third quarter, Mendenhall’s season came to an end when he suffered a broken shoulder, courtesy of a ferocious hit by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

Because he couldn’t lift weights, Mendenhall had to find other ways to stay in shape. So he began taking dance classes at a studio in Bridgeville. He enjoyed those dance classes so much that he took them again this year.
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“I guess you can say it’s a way of cross-training,” he said. “Running backs have to stay limber, and I found that dancing was a way to help me with body control and to strengthen parts of my body that I normally wouldn’t strengthen. I think it helps, and I really enjoyed it.”

Last year, Mendenhall again started the fourth game of the season when Parker was out with a toe injury. He rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-28 in over San Diego and remained the starter the rest of the season.

A former Illinois star, Mendenhall finished the year as the league’s 14th-best rusher with 1,108 yards.

With Parker no longer on the team, Mendenhall is now the Steelers’ feature back. He wants to pick up where he left off last year. He wants to be one of the NFL’s most productive ball carriers.

“He’s an emerging player,” coach Mike Tomlin said.

And Mendenhall is the first to admit that dancing has helped him emerge.