Rashard Mendenhall: Medical Miracle Or Worst Decoy Ever?

 Posted by at 5:06 am  Rashard Mendenhall  Comments Off on Rashard Mendenhall: Medical Miracle Or Worst Decoy Ever?
Sep 062012

What a difference six months can make.

Back in March, Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert was making the media rounds addressing the state of his team. One subject he was repeatedly quizzed on was the status of injured running back Rashard Mendenhall. Mendy suffered a torn ACL in the Steelers’ final regular season game against the Cleveland Browns last December, an injury which usually entails 8-10 months of recovery time. Colbert said that he expected Rashard back in 2012 but probably not until mid-season and even then in a limited role since players usually need at least a full year to get fully back up to speed after such a catastrophic injury.

Even as recently as a couple months ago, Uncle Eddy behind the P-G’s obnoxious pay wall was dropping hints that Mendenhall was coming along slower than the team anticipated and may not be back at all this year. Most everybody figured he’d remain on the PUP list for the first month or so of the season at the very least.

Well, I don’t know if Mr. Miyagi rubbed his hands together and brought some magical healing to Mendy’s knee or what but reports surfaced yesterday that Mendenhall is not only practicing with the team at full speed sans his knee brace, he looks like he may be good to go on Sunday. He didn’t take a single snap during preseason and, as far as I know, spent all of camp on the PUP list standing on the sidelines. Then again, so did James Harrison and, for the most part, Casey Hampton and both of them are expected to start on Sunday. Big Snack is also coming back from a major knee injury although being fat and clogging up the middle doesn’t quite require the same speed and maneuverability being a running back requires.

If Mendy has recovered well enough to start against the Broncos, that would certainly speak well of determination and recuperative powers. Although it’s hardly unusual as Adrian Peterson also tore his ACL late last season and he’s off the PUP list and pushing hard to start on Sunday. Surgery has gotten a lot more advanced as time has gone on. Plus now we have the wondrous rehabbing machine known as the Wii.

I’ll admit I’m a little confused over news of Mendenhall’s progress. For one, Mike Tomlin is notoriously secretive about injuries so all this info “leaking” out is a bit surprising. I suppose he could be saying this to give the Broncos something else to prepare for. If that is the case, Mendy instantly becomes the most laughable decoy ever. No team tailors their game plan to stop Rashard Mendenhall. No team practices in mortal fear that the unstoppable juggernaut known as Rashard Mendenhall will single-handedly cost them the game.

If football players were judged in Moneyball terms, Mendy would the be definition of replacement level.

Then we have the question of effectiveness. Mendenhall was awful last season before suffering a major injury. Surgery may have advanced but ACL repair isn’t like Tommy John surgery where a player often comes back better than before. In fact, running backs are a lot like cars. You can take them to the shop for repairs but they never run the same as when they were shiny and new.

If you’re a fantasy footballer, you’ve probably seen 349 articles warning you to stay away from AD because you never know how he’ll play coming off ACL surgery. Same thing goes for Mendy. And Peterson is at least someone who can play a physical game if he doesn’t have his speed, Mendy was never a lower-your-shoulder power type back. The only thing separating him from the Redzone Redmans and Jon Dwyers of the world was his cut back ability and big play speed. Take that away from him and I don’t really know what he brings to the table.

Remember Willie Parker when he wasn’t so fast anymore?

Steelers To Begin Season Without Hampton, Mendenhall

 Posted by at 7:15 am  Casey Hampton, Rashard Mendenhall  Comments Off on Steelers To Begin Season Without Hampton, Mendenhall
Jun 182012

The Pittsburgh Steelers began mandatory mini-camp last week. Which is not to be confused with voluntary off-season team activities (OTAs) or strongly suggested rookie orientation and underwear inspection. Does anybody else remember the good old days when we had the Pro Bowl the week after the Super Bowl and that was the last we saw of the NFL until teams reported to training camp in August? Not that I blame teams for keeping their players under thumbs all year round. Less chance of them getting arrested or knocking up another half dozen women of loose morals. Call it crime and population control, NFL-style.

I generally don’t cover the goings-on at these get half-assed scrimmages because some rookie breaking loose for a 55 yard touchdown while being covered by some undrafted free agent playing in a t-shirt and shorts doesn’t indicate anything of particular relevance to the upcoming season. However, there was one bit of news which does. General Manager Kevin Colbert has been making the media rounds to discuss some of what we’ve been seeing at mini-camp. Or, in the case of disgruntled wide receiver Mike Wallace, what we’re not seeing, which is him showing up like everybody else instead of being a selfish prick.

Colbert mentioned that injured nose tackle Casey Hampton and injured running back Rashard Mendenhall are progressing slowly from major injuries late in the season and he expects both to begin the 2012 season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. This is significant for a couple of reasons. Not the least of which are NFL rules that mandate any player on the PUP list must sit out the first six games of the regular season. Six games, not weeks, which means neither man will be eligible to return until the Steelers face RGIII and the new look Redskins in week 8.

The good news is that the Steelers are well stocked at both NT and RB while they await their eventual return. To his credit, Big Snack has been working diligently with rookie Alameda Ta’amu, the man many expect will be his heir apparent. I don’t see a rookie starting for the Steelers D, even if the nose tackle’s primary job is to be fat and clog up the middle, so look to Steve McClendon as the odds on favorite to start in Hamp’s place. Which isn’t to say they won’t work Ta’amu into the mix and, if he shows the ability many of us feel he has, steadily increase his playing time as time goes on.

The running back position is even deeper while the bar set by the man they’re trying to replace is even lower. In fact, many wondered why the Steelers didn’t go to more of a shared backfield last season when Mendy repeatedly failed to get the job done. Running game by committee seems to becoming the rule rather than the exception in today’s NFL so let’s hope new offensive coordinator Todd Haley does a better a job spreading the wealth. Isaac Redman will be the team’s primary back but his power running style, while pleasing to fans of Stiller Football, doesn’t offer much big play potential. Rookie Chris Rainey and Baron Batch, with their pass catching skills and big play ability, will be looked at as possible third down backs. And then there are John Clay and Jon Dwyer, who offer depth along with versatility.

Is Mendenhall Tip-Toeing Out Of Pittsburgh?

 Posted by at 5:38 am  Free Agency, Rashard Mendenhall, Redzone Redman  Comments Off on Is Mendenhall Tip-Toeing Out Of Pittsburgh?
Mar 202012

ProFootballTalk is reporting that the Pittsburgh Steelers may cut ties with starting running back Rashard Mendenhall. Actually, this news is being reported by Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette but unless you have a puppy in need of paper training you’re unable to read this information since they’ve chosen to put it behind their insipid pay wall. Please allow me to save you that $3.99 so you can spend it on a more worthy item, such as a triple cinnamon dulce non-fat latte at Starbucks or a pack of Big Red.

To recap what we already know, Mendy tore his ACL in the season finale against Cleveland. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, making the rounds of the local talk shows, has said an ACL tear takes about a year to heal. While a player may physically return to the field sooner, it is his opinion (and mine) that a player doesn’t begin to approach their old form until at least a full year has passed. Keeping this in mind, most had assumed Mendenhall would begin the 2012 season on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list with the team having the option to activate him later in the campaign. Now it seems the injury was either more serious than originally thought or Mendy’s rehab is progressing slower than expected because Uncle Eddy is hearing from inside sources that we may have seen his last carry in the Black and Gold.

I’m not terribly surprised. Running backs are like racehorses. When a racehorse breaks his leg, they have to put him to sleep. When a running back pulls up lame, his career is over. Oh, they may come back and they may even still have a few semi-productive seasons but once a RB blows out a tire, they’ll never be the same player again. What I’m saying is, if you have the second pick in your fantasy football draft, stay the hell away from Adrian Peterson.

Considering Mendy wasn’t any great shakes before tearing his ACL, I can’t imagine he’ll blossom into an elite back in 2013. The only thing that separated Mendenhall from undrafted free agent Isaac Redman was his big play break-away speed. If his ACL costs even .1 second on his 40 time, that advantage is basically gone. And as we’ve seen time and time again, he’s too soft either mentally or physically (or both) to be a tough yardage lower-your-shoulder grinder.
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Injuries Mount As Steelers Limp Into Denver

 Posted by at 8:08 am  Injury Report, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Clark, Secondary  Comments Off on Injuries Mount As Steelers Limp Into Denver
Jan 032012

Maybe Mike Tomlin has a medical career in his future after all.

In his post-game press conference, the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach declined to speculate on the injury to running back Rashard Mendenhall. He simply opined, “When a guy goes down in open grass not touched by anyone, experience tells me that’s generally not good.” Well, the diagnosis turned out to be as bad as we feared with Mendy suffering a torn ACL requiring immediate surgery. The Steelers placed him on injured reserve, ending his 2011 season.

Longtime members of Steeler Nation will remember Rod Woodson became the first (and as far as I know, only) player to return from a torn ACL in the same season when the Black and Gold made it all the way to the Super Bowl in 1995. Typically, that injury requires a 6-8 month healing period and even then players often take a few years to get back to where they were before. If they ever get there at all.
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Week 17 Recap: Best Laid Plans

 Posted by at 7:51 am  Hines Ward, NFL Playoffs, Rashard Mendenhall, Recaps, Redzone Redman, Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu  Comments Off on Week 17 Recap: Best Laid Plans
Jan 022012

Well, that didn’t go according to plan.

On paper, this had the potential to be one of the craziest final weekends in NFL history. No fewer than a half dozen teams had a realistic shot at a playoff berth. All they had to do was win and hope things fell their way. Naturally, almost every single one of those teams lost.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the few that took care of business. Playing their starters the entire game, they battled the Cleveland Browns to a hard fought 13-9 victory. Unfortunately, the gambit didn’t pay off when the Cincinnati Bengals didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, losing to the Baltimore Ravens 24-16. THE RATBIRDS ONLY HAVE ONE GOOD OFFENSIVE PLAYER AND YOU LET HIM RUN FOR 200 YARDS?!?! Thanks to the Jets, Broncos and Raiders also losing, the Bungles were still rewarded for their incompetence by backdooring into the final Wild Card spot.

If the Steelers fail to make noise in this year’s playoffs, this game is going to be the lightning rod for Steeler Nation’s displeasure. By playing his starters the entire game, Mike Tomlin deprived several injured stars, particularly Ben Roethlisberger, of much needed rest. In addition, the team suffered several fresh injuries, most notably to running back Rashard Mendenhall. The preliminary diagnoses is a torn ACL, which would not only end his season but is usually a career-altering injury for a running back. Regardless, Mendy isn’t going to be playing next week.
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Dec 262011

I hope everybody had a great Christmas.

The Pittsburgh Steelers surely did. First, the Black and Gold shut out the hapless St. Louis Rams 27-0. About a half an hour later, the New York Giants put the finishing touches on a crucial late-season victory over inter-city rival New York Jets. As satisfying as it is to watch that arrogant blowhard Rex Ryan stick his wife’s foot in his mouth, the G-Men did the Steelers a huge favor. With the Jets’ loss, the Cincinnati Bengals now control their own destiny. Win next week and they’re in the playoffs for only the third time in twenty-five years. And who might they be playing in the season finale?

The Baltimore Ravens.

Of course, everything would be moot if not for a fantastic workman-like effort by the Steelers. Granted the Rams were starting their third string quarterback and are utterly terrible on both sides of the ball but if we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s to never take any opponent lightly. The Steelers, playing with their own back-up quarterback protected by an offensive line in a total shambles, finally mounted a rushing attack that has been absent all year. Rashard Mendenhall had his best game in almost two seasons, piling up 116 yards on 18 carries. The Steelers’ running game was so effective, they dressed three running backs and all three scored a touchdown. Redzone Redman continued his fine season while rookie John Clay, activated from the practice squad due to injuries to Mewelde Moore and Jon Dwyer, gave us a glimpse of what we saw in the preseason, busting a beautiful 10 yard TD run on the first and only carry of his career.
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Week 13 Recap: Once A Bungle, Always A Bungle

 Posted by at 5:45 am  Antonio Brown, Circle of Hate, Hines Ward, James Harrison, Rashard Mendenhall, Recaps, Redzone Redman  Comments Off on Week 13 Recap: Once A Bungle, Always A Bungle
Dec 052011

Early in the fourth quarter of yesterday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, CBS came back from a break with the sound of “Renegade” clearly audible in the background. I love the Steelers unofficial fight song but pulling out the rally hair metal when the Black and Gold are putting the finishing touches on 35-7 ass-whuppin’ is a bit unnecessary. Like when dickish college coaches dial up a 45 yard bomb already up four touchdowns on a Division I-AA opponent. Or when an NFL team gives their asshat head coach a Gatorade bath for winning a regular season game.

To paraphrase the late great Myron Cope, “Renegade,” like the power of the Terrible Towel, should be saved for when we really need it.

I won’t lie, I thought we were in for a loooong afternoon after the Steelers began yesterday’s game with a three and out in which Mike Wallace dropped a 20 yard pass that hit him in the hands. Andy Dalton responded by hooking up with AJ Green for 43 yards a few plays later. Normally dependable Ike Taylor had a rough time keeping up with Green all afternoon, although did have his second pick of the season later on. The Bengals had a first and goal at the Steelers 8 before you could say, “Anything you can do, I can do better.”

Then the Bungles we all know and love made an appearance.

On third and goal, a touchdown to Jermaine Gresham was wiped out on a false start by Green. Karma, I suppose, for the touchdown the Steelers got taken off the board by a holding penalty in the first game. Cincy lined up for a glorified extra point but were late snapping the ball so Mike Nugent’s field goal didn’t count. On his second attempt, Cameron Heyward blew through the line and Nugent’s kick ricocheted off his big paw. Three golden scoring chances wasted.
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Week 10 Recap: Steelers Have A Gay Old Time

 Posted by at 3:24 am  Circle of Hate, Heath Miller, Rashard Mendenhall, Recaps, William Gay  Comments Off on Week 10 Recap: Steelers Have A Gay Old Time
Nov 142011

All is right with the world.

The Pittsburgh Steelers bounced back from last weekend’s soul-crushing loss by defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 24-17 in what was a road game in name only. While Steeler Nation is to be commended for taking over yet another stadium, I implore them to not read too much into this victory. The temptation to say “Well, Cincy is what we thought they were” will be great even though this game was every bit as close as the final score indicates. From what I saw yesterday, I truly believe Cincy will be the team we battle for control of the AFC North in years to come.

The Black and Gold got off to a fast start, scoring touchdowns on their first two drives of the afternoon. The first drive concluded with Ben Roethlisberger scrambling away from danger and finding Jerricho Cotchery in the end zone for his first Steeler TD. The Cotch Rocket would later have another TD wiped off the board on a similar catch-and-run. I hate to belabor this point since it makes me sound like a Hines Ward hater, which I’m definitely not, but why is this guy not playing more? Hines, who spent almost the entire game on the sideline, caught one ball for 10 yards as it appears his career is quickly reaching an end.
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Mendenhall Is Healthy, Do We Care?

 Posted by at 8:33 am  Rashard Mendenhall, Redzone Redman  Comments Off on Mendenhall Is Healthy, Do We Care?
Oct 122011

[intlink id=”166″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] head coach Mike Tomlin’s weekly press conference yielded little as usual. [intlink id=”41″ type=”category”]Aaron Smith [/intlink]continues to be out with a bad case of ineffectivitis while Marcus Gilbert, [intlink id=”131″ type=”category”]Casey Hampton[/intlink] and [intlink id=”85″ type=”category”]Chris Kemoeatu [/intlink]are all “questionable,” whatever the hell that means. The only definitive information we received was running back [intlink id=”88″ type=”category”]Rashard Mendlenhall [/intlink]would definitely be ready for this weekend’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Praise Allah!

Steeler Nation, though, do we really care?

Last week, Jonathan Dwyer and [intlink id=”168″ type=”category”]Isaac Redman[/intlink] combined to produce the Steelers best rushing attack of the season. The two combined for 156 yards on 26 carries. Mendy has 173 yards for the entire season. What’s more, he hasn’t really been that great dating all the way back to last season. The last time the Steelers have had back-to-back 100 yard rushing performances was by Fast Willie Parker in 2008.
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Know Thy Enemy: Tennessee Titans

 Posted by at 5:18 pm  Big Ben, Game Preview, Rashard Mendenhall, Roster Moves  Comments Off on Know Thy Enemy: Tennessee Titans
Oct 072011

Sit down. Decompress. Put on your favorite pair of comfy slippers. Make a chipped ham sammitch. Get yourself in a nice relaxed frame of mind for what you’re about to read.

The [intlink id=”20″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] are going to lose to the Tennessee Titans this Sunday.

I know, I know. Way to kick off the weekend, Mr. Positive. Look at it this way, it’s far better to keep expectations low and hope the team surpasses them than set the bar high and then get bummed when they fail to clear it. And if I’m wrong, I’ll eat crow with a smile on my face.

Let’s get right to it.
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