In June, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said that Rashard Mendenhall must earn a role in the offense, implying that nothing will be handed to him.
After two weeks of training camp, it’s unclear what Mendenhall has earned.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that Mendenhall remains an “enigma” to the organization, and that he’s looked “ordinary” in camp, just like last season.
In fairness, it’s hard to evaluate running backs in practice without live hitting. That’s why this preseason is so important to Mendenhall’s development.
Running backs coach Kirby Wilson is withholding judgment until he sees Mendenhall play with live bullets flying.
“The more he plays, the more he’ll identify who he is, and all of us —
myself included — we can say, OK, this is who he is, this is his
style, this is what we can expect from him every week,” Wilson said.
“Until we see it
week-in and week-out, he’s still a mystery man.”
Mendenhall has to show the Steelers that he deserves to be on the field or risk getting lost in the shuffle.
Willie Parker remains the team’s clear starter, and Mewelde Moore has earned a role on passing downs. Parker may sit out Thursday night’s game against the Cardinals because of back spasms, giving Mendenhall a chance to start.
A big preseason by Mendenhall would help to erase the lack of impression he’s made thus far in his career.