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Thread: Mendenhall off and running

      
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    Default Mendenhall off and running

    11/13/2009
    Mendenhall off and running
    By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer

    PITTSBURGH - Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin may not have a doghouse, as he claimed after benching second-year running back Rashard Mendenhall for Pittsburgh's third game of the season.

    But Tomlin does like to send messages.

    When he does, he doesn't pull any punches.

    So after Tomlin sat Mendenhall for not paying attention to details in practice leading into a 23-20 loss at Cincinnati, the 2008 first-round draft pick got the message.

    "It was just one of those things where he didn't think I was where I needed to be at that week," Mendenhall said.

    As luck would have it, Willie Parker suffered a toe injury in that loss to the Bengals, giving Mendenhall a shot at being the Steelers' primary ball carrier.

    Mendenhall ran with it.

    He gained a career-high 165 yards with two touchdowns on 29 carries in a win over the San Diego Chargers and hasn't looked back.

    Over the past five games, all Steelers' victories, Mendenhall has 528 yards rushing on 93 carries with four touchdowns.

    Tomlin likes what he's seeing.

    "He's doing a nice job of seeing blocks develop. Very rarely is he missing holes," Tomlin said. "The vision aspect of the game that has very little to do with physical skill, I think he's doing a nice job of. I think he's finishing off runs. When he gets into the second level and into the secondary, he's doing a very nice job of making eight to 10-yard runs 20 to 25-yard runs."

    Mendenhall has seven carries of 20-plus yards, including three last Monday against the Broncos, when he had 155 yards on 22 carries in a 28-10 victory. That ties him with Atlanta's Michael Turner and Cincinnati's Cedric Benson for third-most in the NFL.

    Mendenhall has just 100 carries, compared to 156 for Turner and 198 for Benson.

    In fact, among running backs with 100 or more carries, only NFL rushing leader Chris Johnson of Tennessee has a better yards per carry average (6.7) than Mendenhall's 5.7.

    "He's been running the ball, but more than just his yards and big numbers, he's done a good job with blitz pick-up, knowing the offense, communicating with me if he needs help with something," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "He's just been doing a great job."

    It certainly makes the Steelers, who were relying heavily on Roethlisberger's arm early in the season, a more dangerous team.

    "I think he is maybe a little different style than how Willie (Parker) has been lately, but not too much of a different style of Willie of (2004) or '05 when he started playing," said Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis, a McDonald native and Fort Cherry High School graduate. "Very fast to the hole and making big plays happen in a hurry."

    The Bengals, who have the second-ranked run defense in the NFL behind the Steelers, hope to become the first team to slow Mendenhall.

    "Rankings don't mean anything," said Steelers right tackle Willie Colon. "Denver had the No. 1 defense in the league going into our game with them and you saw how that ended up.

    "Rashard is explosive. He's doing a good job of hitting the hole and hitting it fast. He's growing and he's being smarter. I'm happy for him."

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Odds and end zones[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Fullback Carey Davis (hamstring) and defensive end Travis Kirschke (calf) missed their second consecutive day of practice Thursday. ... Safety Tyrone Carter sat out with an illness after practicing Wednesday. ... For Cincinnati, guard Evan Mathis (ankle), linebacker Keith Rivers (calf) and safety Roy Williams (forearm) sat out Thursday.

    http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/...s-running-game
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    Default Re: Mendenhall off and running

    Mendenhall has had a great 5 games. I hope he can keep it up and stay healthy too. I look forward to getting rid of WP this offseason and finding RM a good #2 back.
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    Default Re: Mendenhall off and running

    I think that the general consensus here (and I'm aware that this might well provoke those who do not agree - but they're the probable minority...) is that Willie Parker has been good for us but that now his production has been in decline. In fact, I think it really drops significantly when his leg was mangled, which isn't too big a surprise.

    RBs often have a shorter career, due to the nature of the position to which add that wassock Arians telling Willie to run up the gut. It's a miracle it's gone this well for this long.

    Mendy's having a good run of games and I hope he'll keep it up.

    So long, FWP, and thanks for all the fish.

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    Default Re: Mendenhall off and running

    Quote Originally Posted by War Machine View Post
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    I think that the general consensus here (and I'm aware that this might well provoke those who do not agree - but they're the probable minority...) is that Willie Parker has been good for us but that now his production has been in decline. In fact, I think it really drops significantly when his leg was mangled, which isn't too big a surprise.

    RBs often have a shorter career, due to the nature of the position to which add that wassock Arians telling Willie to run up the gut. It's a miracle it's gone this well for this long.

    Mendy's having a good run of games and I hope he'll keep it up.

    So long, FWP, and thanks for all the fish.
    I agree with this, mostly. I think that what you hit on in the nature of the game shortening a RBs career...I think that is why it'd be great to have a good #2 option. 5-10 carries per game or something. Its not like with Ben we'd ever be like Carolina feeding each RB the rock significantly per game...but I think that if you could get 5-10 good carries out of a #2 back and then have Moore there as well...we can get a good amount of production out of our RB position as well as prolong the careers and effectiveness of our backs.
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    Default Re: Mendenhall off and running

    Absolutely, BigBen. I like Moore as the occasional RB (he does keep 'em grinding generally) but a Bus-type RB would just add that extra crunch. Sadly, not too many Bettis types around. Over to you, scouts!

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    Default Re: Mendenhall off and running

    Running up the middle can take a career quite a bit quicker imo than sideline to sideline. However, that's where the strengths are so that's what you do. Nonetheless, Mendenhall is a beast and I, too, hope he keeps it up.

    I see no reason right now to think it's a fluke. I think it's another back in a long line that have been great backs for us.
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    Default Re: Mendenhall off and running

    Quote Originally Posted by War Machine View Post
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    Absolutely, BigBen. I like Moore as the occasional RB (he does keep 'em grinding generally) but a Bus-type RB would just add that extra crunch. Sadly, not too many Bettis types around. Over to you, scouts!
    I look at it this way...if you think you'll get between 55-60 offensive plays a game...you have Mendenhall rush 20+ times, Moore maybe a couple, and you get a strong #2 back who can rush 5-10 times and provide good solid rushes...and then you still have Ben passing 30 times. *shrug* Its a simplistic breakdown, but one that can work.

    The other thing here is that as we move forward with RM as our back...we have to remember that injuries happens and it'd be nice to have a reliable #2 that we could count on.

    Im really likin' the fact that Evan Royster has been slowed by poor Penn State playcalling this season and could be a 3rd-4th round target. If you watch any PSU games they dont have the best OL this year...but he's consistently hit the line hard and will take the pounding...and once he gets through the line he can go, just like RM. He's like RM in many regards actually. He'd be a nice mid-round target.
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