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.