NFL rumors: Steelers expect to let Rashard Mendenhall leave

Looking to rebuild their backfield, the Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to allow running back Rashard Mendenhall to test free agency.

The Pittsburgh Steelers underachieved this year, missing the postseason in 2012. They were injury prone across the board, which hurt them, especially losing first-round pick, guard David DeCastro. The struggles along the offensive line were a big reason for the lack of team success. Running back Rashard Mendenhall, soon-to-be free agent, was part of that struggle. He played in just six games and rushed for just 158 yards.

All the team's running backs struggled greatly, which team president Art Rooney noted this week. Rooney told Bob Labriola of Steelers.com that one of their main focuses this offseason would be improving the run game:

"I am disappointed that we weren't more consistent running the football," said Rooney. "It's strange because we did have games where we had good success and against good teams on occasion. So I can't say that I have the answers but I think, again, everybody in this building agrees (the running game) is a place we've got to get better, and we've got to figure out what we need to do to get better. It's something that I think for the Pittsburgh Steelers to be successful, (the running game) has to be one of the foundations, and so we've got to figure that out."

The Steelers have always been known as a ground-and-pound defense, which is how Rooney likes it. However, they have won Super Bowls with Ben Roethlisberger and this smash-mouth defense. The protection has not been good for Roethlisberger and the defense appears to have lost a step.

However, with running backs like Alfred Morris and Arian Foster coming into the league out of the sixth round or undrafted, respectively, the front office might want to refresh the Steelers' backfield all together.

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