View Full Version : Steelers not holding back with Mendenhall

01-08-2011, 10:23 AM
Saturday, January 08, 2011
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Coach Mike Tomlin once said he would run Willie Parker until the wheels came off, and, toward the end of the 2007 season, they finally did.

Parker was never the same after be broke his right fibula in a Week 15 game in St. Louis, an injury that culminated a three-year period in which he carried 913 times -- an average of 314 attempts per season.

The Steelers are hoping the same thing does not happen to Rashard Mendenhall, who has posted consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and became the first running back since Franco Harris in 1976 to lead the team in scoring.

In his first two seasons as a starter, Mendenhall, a No. 1 draft choice in 2008, already is being used at a more frequent pace than Parker.

Mendenhall had 324 carries this season, second only to Houston's Arian Foster (327), who led the National Football League with 1,616 yards rushing. That gives him 568 carries in his first 29 professional starts.

After Parker became the starter at the beginning of the 2005 season, he had 542 carries in his first 29 starts. While each back has the same amount of runs of 20 yards or longer in that time (20), Mendenhall (20) has more touchdowns than Parker (11).

His 13 touchdowns this season were one shy of the franchise record (14), set by Harris in 1976. Mendenhall was unaware he was that close to the Hall of Fame running back.

"That's pretty cool, but I don't really get into stuff like that," Mendenhall said. "I just try to improve and use every game to do that."

Mendenhall finished eighth in the NFL with 1,273 yards rushing, but his average carry of 3.9 yards was third lowest among the 17 backs with more than 1,000 yards. Conversely, he had 11 runs of 20 yards or longer, fifth most in the NFL -- an indication of the inconsistency from him and the running game.

In the season finale in Cleveland, against a Browns defense that had allowed an average of 118 yards per game to the previous three backs, he had only 36 yards on 14 carries and did not have a run longer than 7 yards.

Mendenhall is one of five offensive starters -- wide receiver Mike Wallace, center Maurkice Pouncey, left tackle Jonathan Scott and right guard Ramon Foster are the others -- who will be making their first playoff appearance when the Steelers play an AFC divisional-round game Jan. 15 at Heinz Field.

"We're doing pretty good," Pouncey said.

"Everything can always improve, of course. We want to be No. 1 in rushing, but we're not. We're still winning and we like the things we're doing and we want to keep pushing forward at it."

It won't be from a lack of trying. For a team built around Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game, Mendenhall's 324 carries this season were the fifth most in team history.

"I think we can improve and be more productive," Mendenhall said.

As long as the wheels don't come off.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11008/1116552-66.stm#ixzz1ASRP4Unm

01-08-2011, 02:10 PM
Willie Parker did the same thing in 2006

01-08-2011, 05:04 PM
Mendy is getting a lot of snaps but the running game is not all that productive between the 20's. It's not bad, but he has to fight for every single yard he gets until he can break one here and there. I think he's doing fine considering he missed his rookie season with that busted shoulder.

01-08-2011, 09:09 PM
i agree but that is one reason we need better Guards or we will continue to struggle. Also, using a 4 receiver-1 back formation where Mendy lines up behind Ben would help a lot as well so that it will spread the opposing team's D-lineman and LB's out. It should result in more running room most of the time.

01-08-2011, 11:39 PM
The number of carries by Mendy seemed to sneak up on me, with the passing game maybe it was overshadowed. I didn't realize how many carries he had. Maybe a draft pick on a RB next year in the lower rounds will result in another steal (a la Brown) to spell Mendy.

Real Deal Steel
01-09-2011, 01:48 PM
Mendy will be better next year if we upgrade the O-line. Realistacally, we need to add two new O-line staters for the O-line really to be what we need for it to be.