Steelers' first-round draft pick Rashard Mendenhall met with the Pittsburgh media at the opening of training camp Sunday. Here's what the rookie running back had to say:
Q: How much have they talked to you about contributing to the offense? And how much do you expect to contribute?
A: Being picked high you expect to contribute, but thatís what training camp is for, to get in here and start to learn my role and play into my role. As training camp goes on, Iíll start to feel what thatís going to be.
Q: How important was it for you to get the contract signed?
A: Itís real important. You donít want any distractions, and you donít want to be a distraction as well. To have that squared away and not have to worry about it, I can come here and do what Iím supposed to do.
Q: How important is it for you to get your pads on?
A: Iím looking forward to it, all up until getting hit. Thatís never fun. But just to get out here and put on the helmet and shoulder pads and play football.
Q: You havenít shown anybody your power aspect yet. Are you eager to do that?
A: Yeah, but just all aspects of the game. Being in full pads is not the same as being in shorts. You want to be able to show you can play and block as well.
Q: How much have you returned kicks and are you comfortable?
A: I did it all through high school and was real comfortable doing that. As soon as I got back there in OTAs I felt real comfortable doing it.
Q: Ready for the run test today?
A: Definitely. Iíve been doing a lot of running back at home, so Iíll be ready for it.
Q: Coach said your playing time will depend on how you pick up the offense. How comfortable with it are you?
A: I donít think thatíd be too much of a problem. Itís a huge playbook but we went over a lot of it at OTAs. They installed day by day and Iíve been doing pretty well with it up until this point. I was pretty confident of it toward the middle-end of OTAs, so I feel pretty good about the playbook.
Q: How can a backfield with both you and Willie Parker in it work out?
A: I think that would work out real well. I think it would be great to be there with him, a Pro Bowl caliber running back. I think itíd be great. Heís been nothing but great, so I look forward to it.
Q: What has Willie passed on to you?
A: Since Iíve been here heís been nothing but professional. He tries to help me as much as he can in wherever I need it. He shows me things he thinks I should know as far as how to carry myself as a professional on and off the field.
Q: Whatís your approach to power running? How do you set people up and how do you get through them? How do you run through people?
A: To tell you the truth, I donít consider myself strictly a power runner. The way I run is all based off reaction. Whatever I feel like is right at the time, thatís what I do. A lot of times when youíre in a box all you can do is go through somebody. It depends on the situation. If itís between you and somebody else, you donít want it to be you so you explode into him.
Q: Is it just want to?
A: Yeah. Itís a lot of different things, but itís all reaction at the end of the day.
Q: What do you expect from the fans and media?
A: Iíve been hearing thereíll be a lot of fans. Iím kind of looking forward to it. They say itís kind of crazy, come the first couple days and throughout camp. Itís going to be tough as well, being training camp, football 24-7. Itís going to be rough. Thereís no shade out there. That doesnít help anything. This is football. Thatís what youíre here for.
Q: Spend any of that money yet?
A: A little bit. Not too much.
Q: How do you think the actual speed of the game will compare to what you perceive the speed of the game, as far as being different?
A: Once you jump from college to the NFL and OTAs, it picks up. When you put on pads it picks up again. They say the preseason picks up, then the season picks up. Itís a steady increase.
Q: What are your expectations?
A: I plan on having success. Iím not exactly sure how many yards, but in my role.