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.
Mendenhall: Still swelling and soreness in knee, calls best-case scenario “Week 1” for his return. Fully expects to play in 2012. #Steelers
— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) May 23, 2012
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.