View Full Version : Steelers must spell Mendenhall

08-10-2011, 01:54 PM
Kovacevic: Steelers must spell Mendenhall

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Flash forward to Baltimore on the 11th of September: Rashard Mendenhall bursts through a hole in the Steelers' line but is barreled backward by the Ravens' Ray Lewis. His ankle bends awkwardly. He is carted off the field, cringing in pain.

Mike Tomlin looks down his sideline and sends in ...

No easy answer, is there?

Well, the Steelers had better find one, sooner rather than later.

Mendenhall has been one part force, two parts workhorse the past two seasons, with 627 carries and 2,611 yards, including playoffs. That's the third-most carries in the NFL in that span. Yeah, he's 24 years young, tough, durable, and he holds onto the football more often than James Harrison thinks. But this is a grind not even Earl Campbell could sustain.

Not that anyone concerned will acknowledge it.

I asked Mendenhall about his workload yesterday at St. Vincent College, and he came back flatly: "That's part of the game, part of your job as a running back. I'm preparing to carry whatever load I'm given."

Kirby Wilson, the Steelers' running backs coach, shrugged it off, too: "He's fine. He's a young man. He's built for it, and we feel like he's a special runner. Why take him off the field?"


Where do I start?

In an era in which most teams have running back tandems — Baltimore, for instance, just added Ricky Williams to back up Ray Rice — Mendenhall has accounted for an alarming 62.7 percent of the Steelers' carries the past two seasons. Of the league's top 15 rushing teams last season, the Steelers, who ranked 10th, had the lowest-ranking No. 2 rusher in Isaac Redman with 247 yards.

Moreover, Mendenhall isn't exactly the tiptoeing type. His 1,273 yards last season ranked seventh in the league, but his average of 3.9 yards per carry was the 11th-lowest of the top 50 in total rushing yardage. And remember how the goal line was supposed to be Redman's specialty after his spectacular showing in last year's camp? Mendenhall was just too good down there and finished with 13 rushing touchdowns to Redman's zero.

The Steelers are going to run more than most seem to think. They did so 47.4 percent of the time last season, they've got uncertainty at wide receiver, and they now have run-blocking ace Willie Colon back at right tackle as part of an offense that loves to run to the right.

Somehow, someone else needs to get involved at running back.

But again, who?

Wilson answered "probably Mewelde Moore," and that's understandable to an extent: Moore, 29, is in his eighth season, he was Tomlin's choice for four starts in 2008 to replace injured Willie Parker, and he isn't far off when he calls himself "one of the best third-down backs in the game." But first and second down count, too. Moore is far from a feature back.

Baron Batch, the seventh-round draft pick, has been the buzz of camp, barreling through defenders as easily as he sprints around end. Kid looks like a keeper. But he's bound for special teams for now.

Of the rest of the backs, the only one who entered camp with a realistic chance, Jonathan Dwyer, has shown up out of shape and deserves to be among the first cuts.

So let's see more of Redman.

The pedigree looks suspect, I'll admit. He was an undrafted free agent two years ago out of Division II Bowie State, spent 2009 on the Steelers' practice squad, then made just 52 carries last season. But he's a bullish 230 pounds, he picks up blitzes and, even though he's just an average receiver, it's hard to forget that touchdown catch in Baltimore last season after Troy Polamalu's brilliant strip of Joe Flacco.

The Steelers at least sound open-minded about using Redman more.

"That's why we have him here," Wilson said. "Isaac is someone who's made exciting plays for us when he's been out there, someone who has another level. We think highly of him."

Redman is markedly more blunt on the subject.

"Rashard had a lot of carries, and a man's body can only take so much. Hopefully they'll send some of those my way," Redman said with a smile. "Hey, this has turned into a two-back league. We all know that. I'm trying to step up and make this a tandem."

It's a step worth taking.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... z1Udr38jft (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_750843.html#ixzz1Udr38jft)

08-10-2011, 02:10 PM
This always seemed to be the Steelers way. I would like to see Redman get more carries.

08-10-2011, 02:24 PM
This always seemed to be the Steelers way. I would like to see Redman get more carries.

Yup. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that Redman has some big-time ability, especially in terms of contact running... the guy can run through tackles like not a lot of guys can.

08-10-2011, 03:33 PM
This always seemed to be the Steelers way. I would like to see Redman get more carries.

:Agree 6-8 per game is about right.

What the article does indicate though is we still need a legit #2 RB who can do some of the same things as Mendy

08-10-2011, 03:44 PM
This always seemed to be the Steelers way. I would like to see Redman get more carries.

:Agree 6-8 per game is about right.

What the article does indicate though is we still need a legit #2 RB who can do some of the same things as Mendy

Redman will look like Mendenhall lite if they give him 8 touches a game.

08-10-2011, 09:25 PM
I think Redmen is good enough to be a starter. I think the two of them could give a terrific one two punch. Just think if they would employ a lead blocker once in a while, our run game would be difficult to stop IMO.

I can dream can't I ?

08-11-2011, 01:32 AM
Saddle Up: Steelers running game is basically a one-horse show ...
... and that horse is Rashard Mendenhall
Thursday, August 11, 2011

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Matt Freed/Post-Gazette
Rashard Mendenhall runs with the ball during last season's AFC Championship game. Barring injury, the running back will get the majority of the carries this season, as he did last regular season (321 attempts for 77.5 percent of the team's tries).

Mike Tomlin believes in the two-back system. He said as much shortly after the Steelers hired him in 2007. Then, he went out and used Willie Parker, as promised at Tomlin's first midseason, until the wheels came off.

Parker carried 321 times in Tomlin's first season and led the NFL in rushing right up until he broke his leg in the second to last game and never was the same. By 2010, he was out of football, his rushing yardage totals nearly cut in half from 1,316 to 791 to 389 in the following seasons.

Tomlin might still believe in the two-back system, but that it might only occur when two backs he trusts can give him what Parker and his successor, Rashard Mendenhall, have.

Coincidentally, like Parker in his final productive season, Mendenhall carried precisely 321 times last regular season. That represented 77.5 percent of all the running backs' carries. The rest were sprinkled among Isaac Redman, Mewelde Moore and Jonathan Dwyer.

That will not change, barring an injury to Mendenhall.

Mendenhall is the horse, and, while Redman will get some short-yardage calls, and he and Moore will see some third-down action, the Steelers will give the ball to Mendenhall and hope the wheels don't fall off.

"I was taught that a long time ago, I never worry about a running back getting tired," said running backs coach Kirby Wilson, echoing a sentiment Tomlin made last season. "Usually in a ballgame, they'll take themselves out if they get exhausted. Over a long term in their careers that's never been an issue with me.

"That's what they are there for, to run the ball and carry the load and deliver for us. So, I've never been concerned with that and I never will be. That's their job."

You ride the horse. If you have two, the better, but Mendenhall is the Steelers horse, and they will lean on him as much in 2011 as they did in '10.

Mendenhall had 409 touches last season through the Super Bowl, and that included 23 pass receptions in the regular season and four in the postseason.

He started all 19 games and has not missed one since Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis' brutal hit resulted in a fractured shoulder in the second game of '08 and a premature end to Mendenhall's rookie season.

Mendenhall, only 24, could have more carries in his fourth season.

"He's in excellent shape," Wilson said. "He always takes care of his body. He's a little bit ahead of the curve because when you know the offense as well as he does, you're able to concentrate more on the things that you want to do personally better. I think he's going to have a great year."

If so, the mix behind him won't matter much, but, as they prepare for their first preseason game Friday against the Washington Redskins, the pecking order behind Mendenhall looks to be Redman, Moore and either Dwyer or rookie John Clay.

Early in training camp, that fourth spot looked to be reserved for Baron Batch, but two things have happened since: Wednesday, late in practice at Saint Vincent College, Batch was carted off the field with a knee injury that appears to be serious. Competition for the fourth running back position now apparently will come down to Dwyer and Clay.

Batch was not hit; he made a cut on the artificial turf field and went down. He had made a strong impression in his first two weeks.

The other turnaround has been made by Dwyer, who has worked with strength/conditioning coach Garrett Giamont to shed much of the extra weight he carried with him to Latrobe two weeks ago.

Redman was the Batch of 2009, a rookie running back hailing even more from nowheresville, undrafted after playing at Bowie State in Maryland. He made the practice squad as a rookie, then made the 53-man roster in '10 and surpassed Moore as a third-down back and in short-yardage situations. He could see similar action this season after rounding into a more polished, physically imposing back at 245 pounds, 15 more than his listed weight at the start of last season.

"He's improved every year since he's been here," Wilson said. "It's fun to watch him grow. He's a big, strong man, 245 pounds. He's solid in blitz protection, solid in running routes and catching the football. He's excellent in short yardage. He's a guy you don't hesitate to put in because you trust him."

Moore is a versatile veteran who helped save the '08 Super Bowl season by turning in two solid starts in place of the injured Parker, both victories.

Redman, Dwyer and Clay likely will get most of the work Friday in Washington. Come September, Mendenhall will get nearly all of it.
For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus (http://www.post-gazette.com/plus). Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com and on Twitter: @EdBouchette.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11223/11 ... z1UhB7c13i (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11223/1166610-66-0.stm#ixzz1UhB7c13i)

08-11-2011, 01:31 PM
"Kovacevic: Steelers must spell Mendenhall"

Ok, but don't ask Solomon Wilcotts to do it. He'll murder it for sure. "Mendinghall"

08-11-2011, 04:30 PM
Mendenall is getting an appropriate amount carries for a young elite back. He got around 18 more than Drew-Jones. Bettis averaged 333 carries per season in his first 5 seasons with the Steelers....around 20 more per season than Mendenhall. Sounds like this writer is just looking for material.

08-11-2011, 05:15 PM
Mendenall is getting an appropriate amount carries for a young elite back.


Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew, Michael Turner, Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, Steven Jackson and Cedric Benson all had roughly 300 or more carries last season.

08-11-2011, 07:03 PM
"Kovacevic: Steelers must spell Mendenhall"

Ok, but don't ask Solomon Wilcotts to do it. He'll murder it for sure. "Mendinghall"

"Rotlessberger hands off to Mendinghall..." :HeadBanger


08-12-2011, 10:41 AM
An interesting question here is what do the Steelers think of Mendenhall long term? With his twitter stupidity over the offseason, is this somebody the Steelers will reward with a second contract? Or is this somebody that they will ride hard through the term of his rookie deal, only to part ways when he becames more expensive?

In a way, it could make a lot of sense. You get 5 relatively cheap years out of Mendenhall, then send him packing. Let somebody else give him big money after he's racked up a lot of wear and tear, and find another younger, cheaper back.

08-12-2011, 10:47 AM
RBs are a dime a dozen.

But we did use a 1st round pick on the guy and I'd hate to let him go for nothing like we did with Santonio. It could end up costing us a SuperBowl, which I think we would have won with Santonio.

But wait, Mendy may have cost us the SuperBowl with his fumble. Doh! Run him to the wheels fall off like we did with Parker. He's just a RB.

08-12-2011, 11:39 AM
I agree to the dime a dozen idea and to some degree so do the Steelers. They do not want to give a RB some big stud contract. They'd rather use him when he is young, run him into the ground, then let him go.
But then they did use a first rounder on him.
So it does contradict itself.
I'd like to see them drop him closer to 280 carries, up Moore by 10 and redman by 40. Redman has not disappointed at all in his attempts and is a very good blocker including pass blocking. He can't do what Mendy can on the outside, but neither can any other backup in the league.

08-12-2011, 03:34 PM
He's just a RB.

Hey! Watch it, flip! Oh, wait a minute...you meant Running Back, not RuthlessBurgher. Carry on. :wink:

08-15-2011, 03:35 PM
Arians comfortable with depth at RB

August 15th, 2011
by Mark Kaboly - TribLIVE Blogs


If you are not comfortable with the Steelers’ running back siuation behind starter Rashard Mendenhall, you don’t share the same concern as offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

B.A. likes what he has.

Arians said Monday that he is quite comfortable with the depth behind Mendenhall with veteran Mewelde Moore and second-year guy Isaac Redman — even if either were asked to carry the load for an extended period of time.

“Isaac is coming on like gangbusters,” Arians said. “We went to the Super Bowl with Mewelde running as our feature back for more than a month (in 2008) so I know what he can do. He is a quality guy.”

The Steelers have no desire to bring in a proven running back to back up Mendenhall, who has 539 regular season carries over the past 22 months.

When Moore has been asked to fill in for long periods of time before, he has been succesful.

Moore filled in three times in 2004 as a rookie with Minnesota and ripped off games of 92, 109 and 138 yards. The next year, he had games of 122 and 101 yards.

With the Steelers during the Super Bowl-winning year of 2008, Moore filled in for an injured Willie Parker and went for 99, 120 and 84 yards then later in the year added games of 57, 56 and 67 yards.

Redman had an 4.8 yards per carry average last year as a rookie and caught the game-winning touchdown against Baltimore. He has carried that momentum into this training camp as he ripped off a team-high 42 yards including an 22-yard touchdown run against the Redskins last week.

“And don’t forget Jonathan Dwyer, he is making a nice move,” Arians said. “He is getting in shape and he has running skills. It gives us quality depth. Redman and Mewelde are proven guys. They took us to the Super Bowl last year. Every time Red got the ball, it was positive plays. And Mo is Mo.”

http://blog.triblive.com/steel-mill/201 ... jc.twitter (http://blog.triblive.com/steel-mill/2011/08/15/arians-comfortable-with-depth-at-rb/#.Tkltom7WBjc.twitter)

08-15-2011, 04:07 PM
I am excited about Redman and expect big things this year from him if he gets the ball.

Moore is a quality 3rd down back for now.

Dwyer not so sure I want to rely on him.

Would be really nice to have some other horses in the stable fighting to make the team....

08-15-2011, 05:17 PM
I'm okay with our top 3 running backs but when BA said this I have to wonder

“And don’t forget Jonathan Dwyer, he is making a nice move,” Arians said. “He is getting in shape and he has running skills.

I didn't see anything that Dwyer did in the game that showed he was an NFL running back. When your coach has to say that "he is getting in shape" you have to wonder about his desire to play. I'd rather us keep Clay even though he didn't show anything either.

08-25-2011, 07:01 PM
Steelers' Mendenhall moves on from Super fumble, comments

By Gary Graves, USA TODAY
August 25, 2011


Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall says he's moved on from a turbulent offseason.

PITTSBURGH – Impressive as those consecutive 1,000-yard seasons look upon reflection, Rashard Mendenhall remains focused on the ground he wants to cover.

That philosophy applies to many areas for the Pittsburgh Steelers running back, especially after an eventful offseason. Mendenhall faced heat on numerous fronts this summer, starting with controversial tweets in which he criticized what he felt was the public celebration of Osama bin Laden's death and questioned whether a plane demolished the Twin Towers in the 9/11 attacks.

Then came stinging comments from Steelers linebacker James Harrison in a Men's Journal magazine interview. Harrison called Mendenhall a "fumble machine," referring to the back's fourth-quarter turnover in Super Bowl XLV. The play led to the Green Bay Packers' insurance touchdown in a 31-25 victory. However, the cumulative blowback resulting from that fumble and his comments, as well as those from Harrison, seem not to affect the fourth-year veteran, who has become adept at compartmentalizing things.

"It was what it was, but you just learn from that, move on, and here I am," said Mendenhall, who clarified his remarks and apologized for any harm they caused but ended up losing an endorsement deal with Champion sports apparel.

"You can choose either to ride the roller coaster or just remain yourself and try to do the best you can, and that's what I try to do."

Back on the football field, Mendenhall is curious to see what his offensive role will be after a season in which he set career highs for yards (1,273), touchdowns (13) and carries (324). At first glance, his muscled torso looks ready to absorb the punishment that comes with being the featured, every-down back.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said the Illinois product was also capable of catching more passes, though his preference is Mendenhall carrying the ball. Still, there is room to grow after a strong 2010.

"He's becoming a mature player and a complete player, a guy that's capable of doing a lot of things well," Tomlin said. "He was a 20-year-old guy when we got him, and he's a 24-year-old veteran now if there's such a thing.

"He's working at all areas of his game, what he does when the ball's not in his hands, and his blitz pickup, route running and ball catching has been exceptional.

"He's just working at being a complete football player. I think that's what he desires to be, and that's what we desire him to be."

Doing so involved a rare instance of looking back for Mendenhall, who spent part of his extended offseason, created by the lockout, reviewing the Super Bowl video and the hit by Packers linebacker Clay Matthews that forced his fumble.

Just as he did after the game, he accepted it for the good defensive play it was and began looking ahead to life after the lockout.

Not knowing when that end would come, Mendenhall filled time with some of his favorite activities, including swimming and hip-hop dance classes he began taking while rehabbing a shoulder injury as a rookie. He cleared his head by writing poetry and short stories.

The result has been a revived, renewed Mendenhall, who appears wiser for his experiences. After a lethargic loss to the Washington Redskins to open the preseason, Mendenhall's bruising side resurfaced last week with a six-carry, 28-yard effort in a 24-14 win against the Philadelphia Eagles.

"To have time off, and extended time off, really helped refresh me," said Mendenhall, who rushed for 1,108 yards in 2009. "For everybody, physically and mentally, to be away and then come back, you find that hunger and the fun of playing after not having it for a while."

While Mendenhall seems ready to start another season, his offensive line remains a work in progress. Just this week, the Steelers re-signed tackle Trai Essex after left tackle Jonathan Scott suffered a minor knee injury. There's also a chance veteran Flozell Adams could return for another season.

Having seen this challenge before, Tomlin insists that things will fall into place. For a coach who is 43-21 in four seasons at the helm, they usually do.

The same could be said for his running back, the difference being that he seems more intent on claiming his space by whatever means necessary.

"Each game is unique in its own thing," Mendenhall said. "I just prepare myself, prepare my body. And whatever I'm called to do on Sunday, I'll be ready to do."

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football ... 50132336/1 (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/steelers/story/2011-08-25/Steelers-Mendenhall-moves-on-from-Super-fumble-comments/50132336/1)