The Pittsburgh Steelers Friday injury report should provide a little clarity as to whether or not running back Rashard Mendenhall will make his season debut on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
While Mendenhall reportedly continues to look good in practice as he continues to recover from his torn ACL suffered at the end of last season, the Steelers will be careful with him upon his return to the lineup according to offensive coordinator Todd Haley on Wednesday.
"When the green light is given, you still have to be smart with a guy has been out a good part of a year and seeing his first live action," said Haley during his Thursday talk with the media. "So, we\'ll have to get him ready and practice him like we’ve been doing. Easing him into it would be the way to go about it."
Reading between the lines of the comments made by Haley makes you think that Mendenhall will not be a go this week, especially since Jonathan Dwyer does not appear to be having an issue with his turf toe problem. The important thing to keep in mind is that the Steelers have four other running backs on the 53 man roster right now and Baron Batch has been contributing on special teams as well as on some third downs.
The plan likely remains that Mendenhall will make his season debut following the bye week against the Philadelphia Eagles, and I believe Haley when he says that they will be smart with him once he does see the field.
The Steelers have had issues running the football through the first two games of the season, but if the blocking up front does not improve, or at least get more consistent, a Mendenhall return will not improve things in that area.