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Thread: Mendenhall will be the starter once he returns

  1. #1

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    Mendenhall will be the starter once he returns

    Rashard Mendenhall will be starter

    Updated: November 8, 2012
    By Jamison Hensley |

    It's unknown whether Rashard Mendenhall will play Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, but he will remain the Steelers' starting running back when he's recovered from an Achilles injury, running backs coach Kirby Wilson told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Wednesday.

    "Rashard has always been our lead dog and our top runner," Wilson told the newspaper.

    After missing the first three games of the season because of offseason knee surgery, Mendenhall returned to gain 101 total yards against the Eagles before injuring his Achilles the next game. In his absence, Jonathan Dwyer has gained 100 yards rushing in back-to-back games, and Isaac Redman produced a career-high 147 yards rushing last Sunday.

    There is a chance the Steelers will go with a running back-by-committee approach, and Wilson repeated what coach Mike Tomlin said earlier in the week about giving the ball to the running back who is having the most success during the game. Wilson indicated the first opportunities would go to Mendenhall.

    "Rashard is the complete package -- power, speed, explosiveness," Wilson said. "He is the guy who can take a 10-yard run and make people miss and get 20 more. We think Jonathan has things that he is great at. Isaac has some things that he is great at. But Rashard is the complete package. Rashard has proved that he can do it over the long haul."

    Mendenhall is considered questionable for Monday's game against Kansas City. A first-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2008, he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.


  2. #2

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    We still haven't really seen what Mendenhall can do in this Haley offense...I look forward to it.

  3. #3

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    Steelers figuring out how to handle their running backs

    Posted by Josh Alper on November 8, 2012

    The Steelers have one of those good problems with their running backs right now.

    They’ve had a running back run for more than 100 yards in each of the last three games with Jonathan Dwyer doing the trick twice and Isaac Redman pulling it off in Sunday’s win over the Giants. Both of them were put into the feature back role as a result of injuries and both of them produced, leaving the Steeler with a tough choice to make between them when everybody’s healthy.

    Complicating matters even more is the fact that Rashard Mendenhall is still the guy that running backs coach Kirby Wilson considers to be the starter. Mendenhall has missed most of the year with knee and Achilles injuries, but Wilson told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Mendenhall has the “complete package” and would be first on the depth chart when he’s healthy. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has expressed a desire to stick with one back instead of going the committee route, so it would seem Mendenhall, who seems unlikely to play again this week, would get the first chance at that job when he returns to the lineup.

    Assuming, of course, the Steelers don’t try a different approach. Redman agrees that the Steelers should ride one back, but also suggested going with two tailback looks that the team practiced during training camp.

    “We did a lot of it,” Redman said, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’m surprised we haven’t done more, but everybody’s been banged up. Maybe when we get everybody back and everybody rolling maybe we’ll starting seeing two running backs.”

    Dwyer and Redman both appear to be on track to play this week, so perhaps we will see some of those looks on Monday night. Or we’ll just see more of the same for a team that’s averaging 155 yards on the ground in their last three games. Either way, having too many backs and a successful running game is the kind of issue that should sort itself out just fine for the Steelers.


  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by RuthlessBurgher View Post
    We still haven't really seen what Mendenhall can do in this Haley offense...I look forward to it.
    The glimpses we saw in one game suggest that he will thrive.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by RuthlessBurgher View Post
    We still haven't really seen what Mendenhall can do in this Haley offense...I look forward to it.
    I look at the offense and think Haley designed it for Mendy.

  6. #6
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    Mendy runs scared and dances. Redman runs forward for YARDS every time. We will see.

  7. #7

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    On The Steelers: Two running backs could be ticket for success

    November 8, 2012 12:20 am
    By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Isaac Redman and Rashard Mendenhall talk during practice at the team's South Side facility.

    So the coach has decided to go with the hot running back most of the time, yet he has two hot running backs. What might he do?

    Isaac Redman may have the answer. Put them both back there. The Steelers installed a counter play that involved Redman and fullback Will Johnson last week. Redman initially thought it was for two halfbacks.

    "We had a split backfield with me and the fullback, Will Johnson, and we were running that cross, and he was cutting off the end," Redman said. "He would get the carry if it was called for him. I was thinking, maybe we could have two tailbacks back there at the same time."

    Radical idea, two tailbacks in the same backfield? What in the world of Franco and Rocky could he be thinking? Or, for that matter, Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis. The Kansas City Chiefs use such a formation and, in fact, list it as their first-team offense.

    It works for them, sort of. Charles is the fourth-leading rusher in the AFC with 634 yards, and the Chiefs have the No. 3 running attack in the NFL with an average of 149.9 yards per game. If they had not turned the ball over a league-high 29 times, Kansas City might have something there rather than a 1-7 record.

    Having two running backs in the same backfield still has its place with some NFL teams, it just has not been a part of the Steelers offense in at least 15 years or since Jerome Bettis arrived in 1996. Before Bettis, the Steelers always had two backs who could run, although they still called one a fullback, such as John L. Williams or Merril Hoge.

    "We did a lot of it" in training camp, Redman said. "I'm surprised we haven't done more, but everybody's been banged up. Maybe when we get everybody back and everybody rolling maybe we'll starting seeing two running backs."

    It looks as though both Redman and Jonathan Dwyer will be healthy enough to play together this week. Rashard Mendenhall may need one more week before his return from an achilles injury.

    What then?

    Dwyer is OK with the back-by-committee approach, even though Mike Tomlin said he would like to abandon that. Dwyer also gives credit to Johnson for a resurgence in an offense that has averaged 155 yards rushing the past three games.

    "I think it's good to rotate, let everybody get a feel for it," said Dwyer, who had the team's first consecutive 100-yard games in four years before he missed a win against the New York Giants Sunday because of a thigh injury. "Everybody has a role, and, whoever does get [hot], that guy gets the majority of the carries, and if he gets tired the next guy rolls in."

    Redman agrees with tackle Max Starks, that one runner should get the brunt of the work, although he can see the dilemma that goes with that. The committee approach also was created because Mendenhall was out and Redman had an ankle injury to open the season, and the coaches did not want to put the load on him because of it.

    "By doing that, it was kind of hard to get in a groove," Redman said. "You go in there, you get a carry, you get 2 yards and you might not get another carry for a whole quarter. Then you get 2 yards and then your stats might not look like they should because you're not getting many chances back-to-back to do what you do.

    "But, when you have three running backs who are capable, it's a hard spot to be put in as a coach because this guy's getting most of the carries and you have two guys sitting on the side who are capable of playing. I don't know what you do."

    Simpler proves to be better

    Steelers coordinator Todd Haley has cut back on both the running and passing plays to keep things simpler, and those involved say it has worked.

    "We did get to a point this year where we felt like we were getting a little bit out of control with not being simplified with whatever we thought our best personnel packages were," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "We felt like we've got to the point where we felt like we know what our best personnel group is and we just design plays out of those groups."

    The backs say reducing the plays they run has helped the ground game because they have gone with what works best.

    "Instead of having -- this is just a number -- 50 runs, we said let's just do 25 that we know well and do them well," Roethlisberger said. "We did the same thing in the pass game with formations and motions and everything else."

    By reducing the number of plays it runs, an offense must also guard against becoming predictable.

    "Correct. That's the approach that you have to have," Roethlisberger said. "That's why I think we were OK doing it because we felt like we could still mix it up enough, still have combination routes and run plays at the same time so, if the run doesn't look good. We can get into a pass or vice versa."

    Monday suits them fine

    The Steelers have not played a Monday night game at Heinz Field since 2008. Perhaps the NFL saw Monday night games in Pittsburgh as an unfair advantage for the Steelers, who have not lost a Monday game at home in the past 21 years.

    "We are excited about playing 'Monday Night Football' here at our place," Tomlin said. "We don't take that lightly."

    They have never lost under Tomlin at home on Monday night, never lost at Heinz Field on Monday night, where they are a perfect 6-0, and never lost under Bill Cowher at home on Monday night.

    The previous time they lost a Monday night home game, Chuck Noll was the Steelers coach. The New York Giants beat them, 23-20, Oct. 14, 1991. Since then, Cowher went 11-0 at home and Tomlin has gone 3-0, the most recent game a 23-20 overtime victory against Baltimore Sept. 29, 2008.

    Overall, the Steelers have won six of their past seven Monday games played home and away, most recently a Dec. 19, 2011 loss in San Francisco.

    Short snaps

    • Cornerback Ike Taylor was named AFC defensive player of the week for the second time in his career. He became the team's first cornerback to intercept a pass this season when he picked off Giants quarterbacl Eli Manning to go with his five tackles and one pass knockdown.

    • Former Penn State receiver Derek Moye was signed to the Steelers practice squad in light of the injury to Antonio Brown. The Steelers could add a receiver before the game to their roster. They have two others on the practice squad, rookie Toney Clemons, and David Gilreath, who also has return ability.


  8. #8

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    He didn't dance so much against the Eagles as he had last year (MENDY).. the line is gelling.. I'm down to see what he can bring with the Haley's offense and decent line as well.. We'll get some answers once and for all.. He's fighting for cash, contract..

    I'm hoping we can have a 3 headed run monster like Baltimore had a few years back...
    Black N' Gold Til' I'm Dead N' Cold...
    We don't have any cheerleaders but we do have a few of these \m/...

  9. #9

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    Steelers sticking with the hot hand

    By F. Dale Lolley

    PITTSBURGH – With the possibility of having more than one lead runner to hand the ball off to in Monday night’s game at Heinz Field against the Kansas City Chiefs, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he’s going to stick with the “hot hand.”

    The question begs to be asked, is the hot hand Jonathan Dwyer, who had backto- back 100-yard games before sitting out last week’s win against the Giants; or Isaac Redman, who rushed for a career-high 147 yards in the win at New York?

    The answer might be none of the above.

    The hot hand for the Steelers (5-3) right now might just be the offensive line, which has paved the way for three consecutive individual 100yard rushing games.

    “It’s awesome to watch those guys,” said Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel. “They’ve been wanting to run the ball for a long time. They’re doing a great job feeding off each other, getting down and dirty, moving piles. They get hyped up on that. Hopefully we’ll continue to do that. It opens everything up. It opens the passing game up, play-action, it helps everything.”It has certainly been a big change from the first portion of the season. After averaging just 65 yards rushing in their first three games, the Steelers have gained 155 yards per game on the ground in their last three.

    First-year offensive coordinator Todd Haley has helped accomplish this by trimming the playbook.

    “Instead of having – this is just a number – 50 runs, we said let’s just do 25 that we know well and do them well,” said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “We did the same thing in the pass game with formations and motions and everything else.”

    Instead of having to focus so much on what their assignments are on each particular play, the Steelers’ offensive linemen have been able to concentrate on dominating the man in front of them.

    The results have been easy to see.

    With less to think about, the linemen – particularly guard Willie Colon – have been able to let their natural aggressiveness show.

    In fact, the turning point might have come in the second quarter of a 24-17 win at Cincinnati. Colon not only blocked Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict, he buried him about 10 yards downfield, starting a fight. Since then, the Steelers have not only won at the line of scrimmage, they have dominated it.

    “It turned before that, but that made it even more of a (statement) – keep it going,” said Dwyer. “Everybody got fired up, not just the guys on the field, but on the sidelines and the defense. It just sent a message, ‘That’s how we play.’” Because of that improved offensive line play, it might not matter who the Steelers play at running back moving forward, Dwyer, Redman or Rashard Mendenhall, who is working his way back into the lineup after sitting out the past three games with a sore Achilles’ tendon.

    “Fortunately, we have three guys who are capable of carrying the load,” said Redman. “Dwyer stepped up for two weeks. Then, I stepped up last week. It’s just scary to see what we can do when all three of us are able to carry the ball at the same time.”

    It all starts up front.

    Haley’s use of a true fullback – something shunned by former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians – has helped.

    First-year fullback Will Johnson has gotten better each week and has become a big part of the team’s success in the running game.

    “He’s basically changed our running game,” said Dwyer. “ He’s made it a better running game. He’s made a difference. He’s physical, very athletic for a fullback. He’s one of the most athletic fullbacks I’ve ever seen. It shows in his play.”

    Johnson’s physical ability is a perfect complement to an aggressive offensive line. “Each week they’re getting better,” Redman said. “(Maurkice) Pouncey and Willie Colon, they’re going right at guys, and you can see them tussling after plays. By the end of the game, we’re pounding people out, they’re tired of getting hit and tired of tackling our running backs.”

    Odds and end zones: Mendenhall was a limited participant in practice Thursday, but Dwyer (quad) practiced fully for the second consecutive day. Running back/return man Chris Rainey (ribs) also was a full participant Thursday. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) was limited, and wide receiver Antonio Brown (ankle), safety Troy Polamalu (calf) and linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring) did not practice.


  10. #10

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    He danced behind a crap OL that he never trusted. Mendy is the real deal...can't wait t see what he does behind a real OL.


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