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Thread: Expect much from Mendenhall

  1. #1
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    Expect much from Mendenhall

    By John Harris
    TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Tuesday, June 17, 2008
    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 73070.html


    The great Eric Dickerson rushed for a NFL rookie record 1,808 yards and 18 touchdowns in 1983.
    The Vikings' Adrian Peterson, a modern version of Dickerson, set the single-game rushing record with 296 yards last season while becoming the first rookie in league history to tally two 200-yard rushing games.

    Three running backs were selected in the first round of this year's draft. Steelers rookie Rashard Mendenhall, the No. 23 overall pick, said he understands the lofty demands expected from his position.

    "It's all reaction,'' Mendenhall said. "There's a hole, you run through it.''

    First-round running backs and big plays go together like peanut butter and jelly.
    Since 2003, 13 running backs have gone in the first round. Five produced 1,000-yard seasons, six had 200-plus carries and seven rushed for at least five touchdowns.

    In 2007, the two running backs selected in the first round enjoyed monster seasons.

    Peterson carried the ball 238 times for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch carried 280 times for 1,115 yards and seven touchdowns.

    Other than Cleveland tackle Joe Thomas, no other offensive player taken in the first round had a bigger impact than Peterson and Lynch.

    Two-time Pro Bowler Willie Parker returns from a broken leg as the No. 1 running back, but it goes without saying the Steelers didn't change their draft plans when Mendenhall unexpectedly fell into their laps so he could be Parker's caddie.

    If Mendenhall doesn't play right away, it'll be because he's injured.

    Compared with other positions, the learning curve for a rookie running back is more like a straight line, making it easier to contribute early.

    "It's easier than a quarterback trying to pick up protections and plays and read defenses,'' Mendenhall said. "It's a different kind of thing.''

    Asked about the night-and-day difference between pro and college football, Mendenhall smiled and shrugged.

    "It takes you back to high school going to college,'' said Mendenhall, who started one season at Illinois. "It's just what you think it is. Everybody's big, everybody's fast, everybody's talented.''

    Based on early returns from voluntary workouts that concluded Thursday, Mendenhall, in the venacular, is who we thought he was.

    His impressive blend of power and speed can take your breath away.

    Not only do the Steelers covet Mendenhall's ability to run between the tackles and catch the ball out of the backfield, they also worked him out returning kickoffs because of how quickly he reaches top speed.

    Mendenhall is a playmaker. Even when he's not in the backfield, the Steelers want to give him an opportunity to make plays.

    "I've got a lot of confidence,'' Mendenhall said, "but you've got to learn this playbook and this game.

    "Each day's practice you get more confidence. The more you do it, the better you are.''

    Expect to see plenty of Mendenhall in 2008.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Expect much from Mendenhall

    Returning kickoffs will be a great place for him to instantly upgrade this team. We must get this kid 15 touches a game at least.
    1 Mike Evans WR Texas A&M
    2 Stephen Tuitt DE Notre Dame
    3c Keith McGill CB Utah
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    7c DeAnthony Thomas RB Oregon

  3. #3

    Re: Expect much from Mendenhall

    I like him returning kicks. But, I certainly hope that we see ALOT of him running the ball this season.

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    Re: Expect much from Mendenhall

    Isn't special teams play a strength of Mewelde Moore? I'd like to see what he's got before we put our 1st round pick in there.

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    Hall of Famer AngryAsian's Avatar
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    Re: Expect much from Mendenhall

    I like him coming out of the backfield this season and being the Edge James for Ben this year.

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    Re: Expect much from Mendenhall

    Quote Originally Posted by Ozey74
    Isn't special teams play a strength of Mewelde Moore? I'd like to see what he's got before we put our 1st round pick in there.
    I know what you are saying, but putting Moore AND Mendenhall back there will be a shot in the arm to our pathetic special teams. Certainly, Mendenhall could get injured, but he could also score two or three touchdowns and be the difference in making the playoffs. For me, it is a no brainer. As long as Mendenhall is not our starter, he should return kicks. It is one of the best ways to maximize his value and get him the ball.

    Maroney returned kicks well for the Pats as a rookie. I see Mendenhall as a similar (if not better) late first rounder.
    1 Mike Evans WR Texas A&M
    2 Stephen Tuitt DE Notre Dame
    3c Keith McGill CB Utah
    4 Ross Cockrell CB Duke
    5 Jordan Zumwalt ILB UCLA
    5c Anton Exum S Va Tech
    6 Trey Millard FB/TE Oklahoma
    7 Cody Latimer WR Indiana
    7c DeAnthony Thomas RB Oregon

  7. #7
    Hall of Famer AngryAsian's Avatar
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    Re: Expect much from Mendenhall

    Quote Originally Posted by steelblood
    Quote Originally Posted by Ozey74
    Isn't special teams play a strength of Mewelde Moore? I'd like to see what he's got before we put our 1st round pick in there.
    I know what you are saying, but putting Moore AND Mendenhall back there will be a shot in the arm to our pathetic special teams. Certainly, Mendenhall could get injured, but he could also score two or three touchdowns and be the difference in making the playoffs. For me, it is a no brainer. As long as Mendenhall is not our starter, he should return kicks. It is one of the best ways to maximize his value and get him the ball.

    Maroney returned kicks well for the Pats as a rookie. I see Mendenhall as a similar (if not better) late first rounder.

    Agreed. I wouldn't be at all disappointed about this tandem back there fielding our kickoffs. Talk about durability and difficulty in bringing down.

  8. #8

    Re: Expect much from Mendenhall

    Quote Originally Posted by steelblood
    Quote Originally Posted by Ozey74
    Isn't special teams play a strength of Mewelde Moore? I'd like to see what he's got before we put our 1st round pick in there.
    I know what you are saying, but putting Moore AND Mendenhall back there will be a shot in the arm to our pathetic special teams. Certainly, Mendenhall could get injured, but he could also score two or three touchdowns and be the difference in making the playoffs. For me, it is a no brainer. As long as Mendenhall is not our starter, he should return kicks. It is one of the best ways to maximize his value and get him the ball.

    Maroney returned kicks well for the Pats as a rookie. I see Mendenhall as a similar (if not better) late first rounder.
    Mendenhall is a better back than Maroney. He is a more complete back than Maroney.

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    Re: Expect much from Mendenhall

    Quote Originally Posted by John Harris
    Three running backs were selected in the first round of this year's draft.
    I've complained on here about John Harris being the worst football columnist in Pittsburgh, but the Trib's editors apparently suck as well. How do you get a simple fact like the number of first round RB's wrong in a major newspaper? It takes all of 10 seconds to check the NFL.com DraftTracker in case you were unsure, but I knew off the top of my head that Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall, and Chris Johnson were all taken in the first.

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    Re: Expect much from Mendenhall

    Quote Originally Posted by steelblood
    Quote Originally Posted by Ozey74
    Isn't special teams play a strength of Mewelde Moore? I'd like to see what he's got before we put our 1st round pick in there.
    I know what you are saying, but putting Moore AND Mendenhall back there will be a shot in the arm to our pathetic special teams. Certainly, Mendenhall could get injured, but he could also score two or three touchdowns and be the difference in making the playoffs. For me, it is a no brainer. As long as Mendenhall is not our starter, he should return kicks. It is one of the best ways to maximize his value and get him the ball.

    Maroney returned kicks well for the Pats as a rookie. I see Mendenhall as a similar (if not better) late first rounder.
    I do see your point, and I do agree with you. As long as he's not starting, he should be returning kicks. I have a feeling that he will be sharing duties w/FWP and being getting plenty of PT in the backfield. But, if wasn't getting any time at RB, I wouldn't be opposed to seeing him on ST. I still would like to see what Moore can do on ST. He does have some talent!!

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