It appears that Mendenhall spent significant time practicing last week in the indoor facility of the Steelers, which has artificial turf. The surface that tends to put more stress on joints never gave the 2008 first-round draft pick any problems.
The fifth-year running back tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Pittsburgh’s 2011 regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns. Mendenhall immediately had reconstructive knee surgery on his right knee, and has made significant strides during his recovery.
Leading up to training camp and the preseason, Mendy was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, only to be taken off and placed on the Steelers’ 53-man roster in mid-August after getting ahead of schedule of his recovery time.
Mendenhall would then practice without any restrictions, and without a brace on his knee, with the team once the regular season started.
Now, on the eve of his return to the gridiron, Mendenhall seems primed to show everyone that he is fully recovered, and is ready to take his place as the Steel City’s featured running back.
Mendenhall will easily help improve a Pittsburgh rushing attack that is ranked 31st in the NFL, and in my opinion, will get more carries than most people expect this week.
I think that there is nothing to worry about in regards to his health. The only uncertainty that I have is whether Mendenhall still has his explosiveness. In Mendy’s last three seasons, he’s had 23 runs that were at least 20 yards long.
During Mendy’s absence, running backs Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer have only averaged 2.4 yards per carry, and the longest run between the two this season has been 13 yards.
Mendenhall should most definitely add a much-needed dimension to Pittsburgh’s running game, and should have no problems with his reconstructed knee.
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