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.