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Thread: On the Steelers: Mendenhall destined for same fate as Parker?

      
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    Default On the Steelers: Mendenhall destined for same fate as Parker?

    On the Steelers: Mendenhall destined for same fate as Parker?
    Sunday, March 27, 2011
    By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Bob Donaldson/Post-GazetteSteelers running back Rashard Mendenhall ran for 1,273 yards on 324 carries last season. Both were career highs.As promised, Mike Tomlin ran Willie Parker until his wheels came off and now it's Rashard Mendenhall's turn.

    Parker was leading the league in rushing entering the 15th game of the 2007 season when his leg was broken. He finished with 1,316 yards and his career was finished 20 months later.

    Parker carried 337 times in 2006 for 1,494 yards and 321 times in 2007, when he would have had another 40-50 carries had his injury not occurred.

    In 2009, Mendenhall carried 242 times to Parker's 98. In 2010, Mendenhall carried 324 times for 1,257 yards; Isaac Redman was next with 52 carries.

    Mendenhall is the Steelers' horse and Tomlin is going to ride him and he makes no excuses for it.

    "You know, that's why you draft running backs, to hand them the ball," Tomlin said during an interview last week at the NFL meetings in New Orleans. "Wear and tear is part of the game, specifically at that position. You worry about it, but it doesn't dominate your thought. It's just part of the game."

    The NFL moved to provide more protection for its second-stringers -- those on the two kickoff teams -- than it has for star running backs who regularly take many times more punishment slamming into 350-pound linemen from a running start.

    They may want to make the game safer, but they're not stupid. Limit the number of carries a back can have in a game/season? That won't happen any time soon and Tomlin surely doesn't want to pioneer that effort.

    Tomlin, when he was hired in 2006, said he preferred to split the carries between two backs, but that has not happened. His philosophy for using running backs has changed since the Steelers hired him.

    "The reality is always very different than your vision" is how Tomlin explained it. "In most instances, regardless of what subject or element you're looking at, the reality is very different than your vision, and I imagine that's the case in all jobs."

    He insisted that he has shared the duties at running back among Mendenhall, Redman and Mewelde Moore.

    "I don't know that there's been a clear No. 2. We've had a short-yardage and goal-line specialist, it's been Isaac Redman and before that, it was Gary Russell. We've had a guy who has been third-down capable and distinguished himself in that area in three out of the four years I've been here, and that's been Mewelde Moore.

    "We divvy up the labor. Maybe not ideally the way I envisioned it, but there's a lot about the reality of the job than the way you envision it when you get started."

    If stats can be reality, then Redman and Moore were pretty much kept out of the picture running the ball -- they combined for just 85 carries last season. Moore did catch 26 passes, three more than Mendenhall. Redman caught only nine, although they included one of the most vital of the season, his 9-yard touchdown catch in Baltimore.

    Tomlin also kept Mendenhall in the game near the goal line and he produced 13 of the Steelers' 15 touchdown runs in the regular season and four of their five in the postseason.

    "Really, it was a function of Rashard delivering and having success," Tomlin said. "It's one of the many ways we motivated guys."

    Mendenhall was a junior at Illinois when the Steelers drafted him on the first round in 2008. He turns 24 in June, and Tomlin believes he'll improve over the next few seasons.

    "We're pleased with where he is, but we think he's still a guy in development. He was a 20-year-old, third-year junior when we drafted him. So we were attracted to the upside. That's borne itself out. He continues to improve, he's still a young guy, relatively speaking.

    "We knew when we drafted him one of the things that made him attractive to us is that he was very young and had few habits, that we had an opportunity to be an integral part of his growth and development as a player. And he's upheld his end of the bargain to this point and we expect him to continue. I know he has the desire to continue.

    "He's got some unique talents and we're going to try to build our run game around those talents."

    Imagine how many carries Mendenhall might get once the Steelers succeed in building their run game around him?

    "I ain't been around many backs who don't want [the football]," Tomlin said. "I think if you polled any back, they want the ball and they want it a lot."

    Would Willie Parker's vote right now count?

    Tomlin wants Mendenhall to take more of a leadership role on the team.

    "You know, he's not the young guy in the huddle anymore. There are several men in the huddle with less experience than him and the responsibilities that come with that are going to be enjoyable to watch over the next couple years or so."


    Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com.


    Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11086...#ixzz1HpBEU5ul
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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Mendenhall destined for same fate as Parker?

    If they can beef up the O-Line a bit to where Mendenhall can get to the second level more, that will certainly help with the wear and tear with him..............and Ben.
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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Mendenhall destined for same fate as Parker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steelreign View Post
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    If they can beef up the O-Line a bit to where Mendenhall can get to the second level more, that will certainly help with the wear and tear with him..............and Ben.

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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Mendenhall destined for same fate as Parker?

    Mendy's still a really young kid. As the OL continues to improve, I think we'll see Mendy's numbers follow suit. The interior of the OL is the key to the strength of the run game and we might see the stabilization of the Gs with this draft where we saw Pouncey stabilize the middle last year. So far, I am seeing exactly what I'd thought I'd see outta Mendy when I saw him play with the Illini. I knew it would take him a little while to get fully up to speed with our O, but I think he is mostly there, at this point. I expect to see him as an All-Pro RB in the years to come.
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    I stopped reading after the first coiple paragraphs unless ben gets injured or runs into offseason issues Mendy shouldnt have that many carries in a season. The guy was a horse while ben was out and to some extent when ben came back to let him get back into form. A healthy Ben from game 1 should should cut down on Mendys attempts. Bruce Arians will throw the ball more and with a more mature OL and wide recievers along with the league using more spread formations we will likely get more in line with 2009 stats wise. Im on my phone right now but when you look at the numbers over the last 8 games of the season you see more of the splits and averages we should expect out of a full season with ben for 15-16 games
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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Mendenhall destined for same fate as Parker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    I stopped reading after the first coiple paragraphs unless ben gets injured or runs into offseason issues Mendy shouldnt have that many carries in a season. The guy was a horse while ben was out and to some extent when ben came back to let him get back into form. A healthy Ben from game 1 should should cut down on Mendys attempts. Bruce Arians will throw the ball more and with a more mature OL and wide recievers along with the league using more spread formations we will likely get more in line with 2009 stats wise. Im on my phone right now but when you look at the numbers over the last 8 games of the season you see more of the splits and averages we should expect out of a full season with ben for 15-16 games
    With the league becoming much more pass-oriented, it wouldn't surprise me if this was the case. I think having two capable RBs will always be a necessary element to a contending team. But, I think the future will dictate that the non-featured RB be as good in the receiving game as the WRs (the old concept of the Flanker comes to mind, but even more backfield intensive). MM is a player who occurs to me to be a prototype flanker in such a situation.

    I'm convinced Mendy can become an All-Pro caliber. The future may well hold that he won't have to work all that much harder to attain that status. But, the more we can solidify our OL, the greater versatility our O can assume.
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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Mendenhall destined for same fate as Parker?

    Do you guys actually see the o-line getting better ? Sure we have a good center now but where do we go from there ? We don't know if Starks will be the same and at best he was " okay " Flozell might not return and how much fuel is in his tank ? Colinn......puh ! and then there is Kemo and the other flavor of the week guard.

    Seems we are destined to have injuries at our o-line each season on top of all things.

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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Mendenhall destined for same fate as Parker?

    Fezziwig: I'll wait until the draft/camp is done before going one way or the other. The new line coach seemed to make a difference last season, so with the possibility of a couple of changes/upgrades...
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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Mendenhall destined for same fate as Parker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steelreign View Post
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    If they can beef up the O-Line a bit to where Mendenhall can get to the second level more, that will certainly help with the wear and tear with him..............and Ben.
    How long have we been talking about addressing the O-line and seeing it continue to be patchworked with journeyman FA's?

    I don't see the O-line getting significantly better for at least the next five years and probably longer.
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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Mendenhall destined for same fate as Parker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetchuck View Post
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    How long have we been talking about addressing the O-line and seeing it continue to be patchworked with journeyman FA's?

    I don't see the O-line getting significantly better for at least the next five years and probably longer.
    Agreed.... It is a perennial problem and will continue to be so for the immediate future....
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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Mendenhall destined for same fate as Parker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetchuck View Post
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    How long have we been talking about addressing the O-line and seeing it continue to be patchworked with journeyman FA's?

    I don't see the O-line getting significantly better for at least the next five years and probably longer.
    For all the injuries we had on the OL last season, I felt like we actually had fairly good OL play.

    OTOH, until last year's draft (because I simply got fed up), I kept carping about how we needed OL high in the draft and it continually kept being ignored by Colbert and the Brain Fart Trust. Now, we see what the consequences of that particular ignorance is. So be it.

    Let's not kid ourselves. The OL is either priority 1-A or 1-B, depending on who you ask. IMHO, we either need an OT or a LG with one of our first two picks. There is no disputing this. And the reason why is because we have an emerging RB who could use at least one and, preferably, two new OLers to give him the lead blocking he has shown he needs. Also, because we have a QB who needs the extra protection before the shell shock he has taken over the last three years takes an irreversible toll. And, it appears, he might be dangerously close to exactly that happening.
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