Rashard Mendenhall ready for Week 5 return

Rashard Mendenhall is expected to play in Week 5 when the Steelers take on the Eagles.

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Rashard Mendenhall's Injury Could Land Him On PUP List To Start 2012

It's starting to look more and more like the Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2012 season under the assumption that Rashard Mendenhall won't be able to contribute much, if anything. In comments to the media on Monday, general manager Kevin Colbert didn't rule out a return, but also didn't sound particularly optimistic (via ESPN).

"I never feel good about an ACL for a year," Colbert told Pittsburgh reporters today.

This would that Mendenhall would likely start the season on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he'd have to miss at least six games to start 2012. Mendenhall has led the Steelers in rushing in each of the past three seasons, but tore his ACL on Jan. 1 in the regular-season finale. Even before the injury, he was having a bit of down season with 928 yards rushing. That was his lowest total since taking over the starting job in 2009.

It also looks as if the Steelers are prepared to move forward with the players already on their roster, as opposed to looking outside the organization. That would likely mean the starting job would fall to Isaac Redman, who showed some promise while rushing for 121 yards in the playoff loss to the Denver Broncos. Redman has never been a starter, though, and has just 162 career rushing attempts in his two NFL seasons.

For more on Mendenhall's injury and what the Steelers may do, check out Behind the Steel Curtain.

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Rashard Mendenhall Injury: Steelers RB Has Torn ACL

Rashard Mendenhall will not only miss the entirety of the playoffs, it could be awhile before he returns to the field. ESPN is reporting (via Pro Football Talk) that the Pittsburgh Steelers running back has torn his ACL, which could mean that he misses a significant portion of the 2012 season.

Mendenhall hurt his knee in Sunday's win over the Cleveland Browns. Mendenhall was taken to the locker room on a stretcher and there were immediate fears that the injury was serious. These reports confirm the worst-case scenario.

Mendenhall had suffered through a subpar season in which he gained 928 rushing yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. He rushed for more than 100 yards on just two occasions, with one of them coming in Week 16. That sparked hopes that he was hitting his stride just in time for the playoffs.

Instead, the Steelers will turn to running backs Isaac Redman and John Clay. Redman has rushed for 479 yards and averaged 4.4 yards per carry. Clay has just 41 yards in his rookie season.

For more on this injury, be sure to check out Steelers blog Behind the Steel Curtain.

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Rashard Mendenhall Injury: Steelers RB Unlikely To Play Vs. Broncos, Could Have Torn ACL

Rashard Mendenhall's right knee injury has gone from "will need an MRI" to "could be a torn ACL" in record time. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Steelers do not expect Mendenhall to play against the Denver Broncos in next week's AFC Wild Card round match-up, and Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin thinks Mendenhall's injury could be a torn ACL.

If Tomlin's fears are confirmed, that leaves the Steelers without the most important cog of their running game as they attempt to repeat as the AFC's Super Bowl representatives in the 2011 NFL playoffs. Mendenhall had 928 rushing yards in the regular season; every other Steelers runner combined had a total of 975 rushing yards.

Pittsburgh's offense is not a run-first one, nor one that is overly dependent on Mendenhall, thanks to Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace, and Antonio Brown. But Mendenhall's loss might damage their chances in the playoffs substantially.

For more on the Steelers, head to Behind the Steel Curtain. For more on the NFL, head to SB Nation's NFL hub and our Week 17 StoryStream.

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