Rashard Mendenhall Says Week 1 Return Is Best Case Scenario

The Pittsburgh Steelers have wrapped up day two of their first OTA session of the 2012 season and running back Rashard Mendenhall talked to the media afterwards. Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports via Twitter that Mendenhall said that he is still experiencing swelling and soreness in his surgically repaired knee and said that week 1 was a best-case scenario for his return to action. Mendenhall also fully expects to play in 2012 according to Kovacevic.

This report is not really earth shattering in nature as Mendenhall tore the ACL in his right knee late in the first half of the season finale against the Cleveland Browns. Generally the timeline for a running back to be fully ready for action is anywhere from 9 to 12 months, but it is not out of the question he could be ready sooner than that. Despite his optimism, Mendenhall is expected to start training camp off on the Steelers Active PUP list and that will likely lead to him being moved to the Reserve PUP list once the season begins. That would mean that he must miss the first six weeks of the season at the very least.

General Manager Kevin Colbert has stated since Mendenhall suffered the knee injury that he is never really comfortable with running backs returning from ACL injuries until after a year, but he did not rule out the Steelers 2008 first round draft pick returning to action much earlier than that. Mendenhall was spotted by Mark Kaboly on Tuesday running at a pretty good clip during the session, but no cutting was involved.

Mendenhall is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will be an unrestricted free agent following the 2012 season.

In other running back news Wednesday, running back Isaac Redman, who would be the starter in week 1 if Mendenhall is not ready, said that the new offense of Todd Haley will get the ball to the backs more in the air this year. Redman was quoted as saying, “I feel we\’re capable of doing well with that.” In addition, Redman also said that tight end David Johnson has officially been moved to fullback and that is the very same thing Jonathan Dwyer told us on the podcast prior to the OTA sessions.

  • Steel Hurtin

    I am in the minority, in that i really like what Mendy can bring to the table. I think he has a good mix of power, elusiveness, and he is young. Being this is a contract year for him, i hope he can come back on a deal next season. I think with Haley calling more pass plays for the backs, this could play in to his favor. I would like to see Redman, Mendy, Dwyer. Batch, and Rainey contribute this season, should be fun to watch!

  • P. Serling

    Definitely an interesting year for the RBs… Looks like Redman will get a chance to prove whether he’s the go to guy or not or will he just be one of many options in Haley’s new offensive scheme… I’m still curious to see how Mendy would do with an improved line and a fullback blocking for him.

    Plus, with all the changes to the line, it will be exciting to see how well they mesh over the first few games and beyond.

  • Jprankster2005

    I’m looking forward to rainey and company catching the ball more I think it will be just another weapon for Ben……. I like Dwyer as a Fullback……. Redman as Starter and Batch 3rd down back…… Then rainey doing all kinds of stuff…….

  • CR

    Personally, I think the talent level between Mendenhall and Redman and somewhat stark. Mendenhall is clearly a lot more talented and capable of being an above average every down back. I would hate to see us lose Mendenhall and him never really get a chance to play behind an above average line. I mean the guy was constantly being met in the backfield by defenders throughtout his early career. In 2010 he did really well behind a line that was pretty medicore at best and there is no way we have seen him in his prime. I too would love to see the Steelers bring him back and maybe this will work out in Steelers favor in that they don’t have to overpay him since he will not have a lot of leverage.

  • Jabsosteel

    Mendy’s knee is experiencing swelling and soreness, and I’ve been noticing swelling disinterest in Mendy and soreness that he’s still a part of this team. This failed experiment doesn’t ever seem to end. You folks that think he’s elusive?!?! …you’ve got to be kidding. A guy who waits and waits and waits to find the hole and who consistently dives before taking big hits is not called evasive – he’s called ‘not good’ or, perhaps, ‘timid’. I sometimes think that it’s been so long since we’ve had an impact runner that fans forget how good a truly good running back can look as a Steeler.

  • Jabsosteel

    Best case scenario is that the team cust bait and moves on…

  • Woodleykills56

    Dear Mendenhall,

    You are in a contract year…hint, hint.

  • Eric87

    I like Mendy, he has the burst to take it all the way and could be a better downhill runner if he wanted to be. Most people dislike him cuz he dances at the line, but with a shitty line, sometimes the lanes are not there. I know Redman did decently, but not every back can Bettis his way through people. I hope they keep Mendy for a few more years and use him and Redman like the Panthers used to with Williams and Stewart.

  • RMSteeler

    No dancing for awhile after the ACL blowout. May work in his favor that straight ahead running will be easier than twisting on that thing. May condition him mentally to run straight most of the time. Especially if he finally has some big holes to accelerate through. Redman could be a beast when the guards get in sync. No rush for Mendy unless an injury occurs. Hopefully, a full spring/summer of work will slow down those endless hamstring injuries almost all the defense got last year. All through the NFL, have never seen hammies be such a problem as last year.