This Sunday night, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall will suit up to play after missing the last four games with an injured Achilles. Not only is Mendenhall playing, but he is also expected to be the starting running back versus the Baltimore Ravens.
Personally, I don’t think it really matters if Mendenhall starts. However, I do think that he should get a good amount of carries against Baltimore. Reason being is because Baltimore has the 26th ranked run defense in the NFL. In addition, Mendenhall’s fresh legs should make the Steelers’ running game more explosive.
At the same time, Pittsburgh shouldn’t shy away from Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer. The chemistry between Redman, Dwyer, and the offensive line is still in tact, and carries should be given to them as well.
Let’s not forget that Pittsburgh’s ground attack averaged 140 yards in the last four games that Redman and Dwyer started in, and that Redman rushed for a season-best 147 yards while Dwyer surpassed the century mark on the ground twice.
With quarterback Byron Leftwich stepping in for the injured Ben Roethlisberger, and wide receiver Antonio Brown sidelined for the second week in a row, the Steelers’ running game will be heavily depended on in this heated rivalry.
A highly productive running game will give Leftwich more time to knock off a lot of rust that has been building up since his last NFL start in 2009. No one knows exactly how long Roethlisberger’s injured shoulder and ribs will keep him on the shelf. The running game’s success will benefit Leftwich and the Steelers, especially if Leftwich is needed to start at quarterback in Week 13 when Pittsburgh faces Baltimore again.
Mendy just might be the x-factor in this game. The success of the running game, as well as the success of Leftwich will all depend on Mendenhall’s production this week.
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