Steelers To Get Help In All Three Phases With Return Of Mendenhall, Polamalu & Sylvester

The Pittsburgh Steelers will get back to work on Monday as they prepare to host the 3-1 Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday at Heinz Field and they hope to do so with a few extra healthy bodies in uniform, specifically two former first round draft picks. In addition, all three bodies look to help in all three areas of the game.

Running back Rashard Mendenhall, who tore is right ACL in the season finale last year against the Cleveland Browns, looks likely to make his season debut on Sunday and the running game could certainly use whatever spark that he can provide. Through the first three games the Steelers have rushed for a total of 195 yards and are averaging 65 yards on the ground per game and 2.6 yards per carry.

While Mendenhall looks to spark the offense, safety Troy Polamalu looks to be on course to return to the lineup after a two game absence because of a calf injury. The defense has yet to play a game this season with both of their starting safeties in the lineup at the same time as Ryan Clark was forced to sit out the season opener due to his sickle cell trait.

Ryan Mundy, who filled in for Polamalu both and Clark the last three games, has not played well and the defense only has one interception coming out of the bye week, which was a gift by Carson Palmer in the loss to the Oakland Raiders prior to the bye.

While not a starter or a former first rounder, linebacker Stevenson Sylvester also looks to make his season debut against the Eagles, which should help a special teams unit that has floundered on defending kickoffs prior to the bye week. So far through three games the Steelers kickoff coverage unit has allowed a 33.2 yard average, good for 31st in the league.

While linebacker James Harrison is not expected to be ready, getting these three players back against the Eagles will certainly give the Steelers help in all three phases of their game.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Mendenhall’s return could be a really big deal. I’ve read a few articles that have quoted the O-line as saying they are excited to get him back. That may really be all that is needed to get the running game going again. Having someone in the backfield that the line is excited to block for could be the very thing the running game needs right now. (Of course the excitement could wear off in a few games and the running game could back to where it is now as well)

  • SteelSpine

    – Mendy: The day we’re count on Mendenhall to be our savior, man I never suspected we would come down to that. Well in case counting on Mendy doesnt save the run game, since appears staff not able to plan blocking for run plays (constant mismatches, & most other times too-many people to block), might as well abandon Rooney’s wishes of running, insted light-it-up take adantage of Ben being “dialed in”. Of course passing more will get Ben killed, but thats why hav 2 old vet decent QBs backups instedof any developmental 3rd QB.

    – Sly: I like Sylvester based on last year in preseason but he’s only going to play STs (til Foote gone). Our STs gave up long returns this season, but hard to get excited about SpecialTeams because that isnt going to carry this team.

    – Polo: Because our front 7 not making plays, Polo gonna have to make even more plays & that’s gonna get Polo hurt again (w his playing style). Obviously it’d be great to have Troy back, but noone will bet (based on his give-it-all style) he would make it thru the rest of this season without getting hurt.

    Sorry about my pessimisim, 2 weeks is too long to chew on that loss to the lousy Raiders.

  • Pete

    I’ll be happy to be proven wrong but I don’t think Mendenhall will make any difference to the running game. He’s been cautious himself as well as comments by Heath Miller. Mendenhall behind a poor run blocking line is worse than Redman.

    I think the problem is the cohesion of the offensive line. They are pass protecting well (never thought I’d be saying that) but can’t seem to get the run blocking down. However, the O linemen are not able to do what has been asked of them in the running game. I don’t think the backs suddenly can’t run. It’s the line. Mendy will have to run behind the same line. Should be interesting is all I can say.

  • SteelSpine

    I agree with all that. I too am hoping I’m proven wrong on that, & it will indeed be interesting because Mendy’s a spinner.