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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Steelers make somewhat surprising move

The Steelers on Friday activated a pair of players off the PUP list.

But one of them wasn't somebody many were expecting to be activated at this time.

Rashard Mendenhall and Casey Hampton came off the PUP on Friday, opening the door for both to return to practice on Tuesday when the Steelers return to their facility on Pittsburgh's South Side.

Hampton's activation wasn't a surprise. Though he had offseason surgery to repair his ACL, the team expected him to be ready for the opening of the regular season, at least on a limited basis.

But Mendenhall was a different story. Though he was, by all accounts, ahead of the curve in his recovery from a torn ACL,

The team had continued to say that it expected him to open the season on the PUP, meaning he would be out the first six weeks.

Now, he will have to open the season on the 53-man roster.

The Steelers obviously feel Mendenhall is ready, or they wouldn't have activated him. But he's also not ready to shoulder a full load.

The issue, in my eyes, is that once the season begins, there really is no easing a player back into practice. Either you're ready to go or you're not. In-season practices are used to get ready for the next opponent, not get somebody ready to return to the field.

So the Steelers activated Mendenhall now to give him a couple of weeks of training camp.

Also at issue are the injuries to the other running backs on the roster. Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer have both been banged up.

Probably more so in the case of Dwyer, the Steelers are sending a message that they're not happy with the status quo.

What does this mean for the roster? Hampton was considered a given to take a spot on the 53-man roster. Mendenhall was not.

The guess here is that the team either goes with four receivers - including Mike Wallace, who should report any day now - and use Chris Rainey and Heath Miller in certain situations, or go with two tight ends and use Will Johnson or Jamie McCoy as an H-back type.


Anonymous said...

What makes you think Wallace will be back sooner than later?

Anonymous said...

Is it really a given that Hampton even makes the 53? I'm sure he was told back in March the options were either for Hampton to take a pay cut or be released. Guessing that conversation may have also offered no promises and strong encouragement to show up for all activities. Hampton has carried himself this offseason like someone in danger of keeping his job. He's never shown up for offseason OTAs even when injured. I like Hampton, and in isolation feel he's worth and has earned a spot on the 53. But McClendon appears to be the starter going forward, with or without a healthy Hampton. And they drafted another NT fairly high. Do you really need to be 3 deep at a 30 snap position? Maybe you and others are hearing things from the FO/coaches that stamp Hampton's ticket for the 53, but from all the given above, he doesn't appear to me to be a slamdunk at all.

Anonymous said...

Praise be, Mendy is back to dance around behind the LOS and lose 2 or 3 yards! Glad that bum will be gone next season.

Anonymous said...

Dale, What would be the difference between practice for Mendenhall in week one versus Mendenhall coming off the PUP in week 6? My thoughts are this allows him time to get in football shape by the time his 6th week would have come whereas if he was out until week 6, he would still need a few weeks to get into football shape.

I hope that wasn't to confusing...


alexrkirby said...

This feels like the Steelers panicking because of all the backfield injuries. He can't be ready to play and now he takes up a roster spot.

Anonymous said...

You're slowly losing all creditability...Take the hit. You were wrong about Mendenhall.Don't make excuses are create scenarios within the roster to glaze over the mistake.

I notice all the Pittsburgh media guys were wrong on this...How could that be? Sheep eating from a trough

kyle said...


Sheep don't eat from a trough. Get better at metaphors.

I figure they know the Ford kid is just a camp body so they have a roster spot to burn and feel Mendenhall will be ready before Week 6. Is that so hard to believe?

Anonymous said...

Pigs eating from a birdfeeder?

adamg said...

Mendenhall was activated because his rehab was beyond what he was allowed to do while on the PUP. Now he can do more advanced rehab as well as practice.

Patrick said...

if they don't activate Mendenhall before the season he can't play till week 6. Sounds like they think he might be able to play before week 6 but not week 1. And if injuries continue piling up they might need him prior to week 6.

Tim said...


He CAN'T be ready to play? How the hell do you know that? Even if he's not ready by the opener, he could be ready by week 2, week 3, week 4 (which is after a bye)... you get the point. We could get him for up to 6 extra games, and that's not worth losing a 5th WR or 5th safety or whatever for as little as 0 games?

Yes, it's true, the worst case scenario is that he still misses 5 or 6 games and we lose that spot for nothing. Is that what's going to happen? You know that?

It's low risk and high reward. It's a no-brainer.

kyle said...

Not to mention, he was going to be back at some point this season. The Mendenhall haters have had the fantasy all offseason of Redman leading the league in rushing and Mendy being cut outright. He wasn't going to be cut. He was going to be taken off the PUP eventually, so the roster spot he's "taking up" was going to be opened for him regardless. So instead of a fringe guy being inactive on game days for 6+ weeks Mendenhall can be inactive for however many. Big whoop.

Anonymous said...

You think they will go with 4 wide receivers? You're paid to analyze NFL football, right?

Steve-O said...

Geez what's with all the haters? several times during the off-season the GM said he intended to put Mendenhall on PUP and now Dale is taking a hit for reporting that? Aparently Mendenhall is progressing better than anticipated and the team made an adjustment to their roster. What's the big deal? And panicking? Please! They're simply putting themselves in the best position to maximize their resources. Every team has these issues and every team adjusts accordingly. Its never perfect and its often dicated by things beyond the team's control.

As far as the wide receivers go, from what I can tell during Haley's prior coaching stints the used the tight ends as well as the wide receivers so 4 WRs mixed in with a couple of tight ends is not out of the realm of possibility. Should be interesting when the final cuts come out.

Dale Lolley said...

Hampton makes the 53 because Ta'amu is in no way, shape or form ready to play.

Mendenhall coming back now allows him to practice - when they're working on general things - rather than later - when they are working on getting ready for a particular opponent.

As for four wideouts, there have been plenty of times when they've only dressed four anyway. The last couple of years, Battle was a receiver in name only, anyway. You can go with four and use Rainey and Miller in certain situations if you have an injury.

None of the receivers in camp have looked like anything special. Would you rather have a fifth receiver, or cut a promising player at another position? The fifth receiver is never going to play, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I doubt it matters much. Haven't seen a Steeler team this bereft of talent since Noll's first year. On a 90 man roster, they might have 20 guys that can actually play.

Patrick said...

they obviously have more than 20 guys that can play.

They aren't as deep as usual, but they aren't as old either.

Dale Lolley said...

I would agree they are not as deep as normal, but they certainly have more than 20 players. That's ridiculous to suggest.
But their depth is being tested by the 2007 and 2008 drafts.