The Steelers won their game on Sunday in Cleveland, but they lost their shot at the bye week that would have accompanied the AFC North title.
They also may have lost their starting running back for the bulk of the offseason, if not longer.
Coach Mike Tomlin told reporters after the game that running back Rashard Mendenhall could have a torn ACL, and that Mendenhall is not expected to play next weekend in Denver.
A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that an MRI will be performed tomorrow. (As if that needed a source.)
Mendenhall would be the second big-name running back to suffer a torn ACL in consecutive weeks. Eight days ago, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson suffered the same injury.
Isaac Redman replaced Mendenhall on Sunday, rushing for 92 yards on 19 carries. Redman is expected to get the start against Denver; it’s unknown whether the Steelers will add any running backs to the roster for the playoff run. Currently, the other options are Mewelde Moore and John Clay. Chad Spann is on the practice squad.
For Mendenhall, the timing of the injury raises questions regarding whether the team will want to keep him in 2012. He finished the 2011 season with fewer than 1,000 rushing yards for the first time since his rookie season, and he’s entering the final year of his rookie contract, at a base salary of $650,000.
Mendenhall created a stir during the lockout, however, with his comments on Twitter following the killing of Osama bin Laden. The Steelers could decide that it’s simply time to move on, possibly by drafting a new running back in one of the middle rounds.