Two veteran Steelers recovering from torn ACLs have been deemed ready to start practicing by the team.
The Steelers announced Friday afternoon that they have activated running back Rashard Mendenhall and defensive tackle Casey Hampton from the physically-unable-to-perform list. There wasn’t much sign that either player was close to being ready to play in recent days, but they have obviously progressed enough to make the Steelers see what they can do on the field.
Mendenhall’s activation is a bigger surprise because every voice from Steelers camp, including General Manager Kevin Colbert’s, has indicated that he would start the season on the PUP list. That would give him at least six more weeks of recovery time that he appeared to need given his limited work this offseason. The Steelers have been dealing with injuries to Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer in the backfield as well, which makes you wonder if that’s contributing to the course correction with Mendenhall.
Hampton has long maintained that he would be ready for Week One so his change in circumstances isn’t quite as surprising. Activating him now gives him solid practice time as well as the chance to play in a couple of preseason games if the Steelers feel its necessary.
Neither player is eligible to be placed on the regular season PUP list, which means that they’ll count against the 53-man roster unless they are placed on injured reserve or otherwise dispatched from the team.