LATROBE – Mike Tomlin dialed up a heavy dose of Rashard Mendenhall yesterday, and Mendenhall responded like a healthy back in the prime of his career should.
“He’s done a super job preparing himself and I expect him to have a tremendous year,” said running backs coach Kirby Wilson.
Wilson calls Mendenhall “a four-phase, all-phase running back.”
And Wilson went on. “This guy’s an outstanding blitz-pickup player. He’s outstanding as a route runner. He’s got very, very good hands as a receiver. His knowledge of the game and of this offense is superior. He’s a really focused football player, and obviously what he does for us from tackle to tackle, he’s a dynamic finisher. He is a complete football player and this guy’s got a bright, bright future ahead of him as long as he stays focused and as long as he continues to work hard the sky’s the limit for him. There’s nothing he can’t do.”
While Mendenhall rushed for a career-high 1,273 yards last season, on his last carry – on 2nd-and-2 at the Green Bay 33, to start the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl – he fumbled. Might there be any type of carryover?
“It’s gone. It’s over,” Wilson said. “You can never change it. And it’s still one mistake.
“You just always try to improve your game every week, every year, and I think he’s done that. He’s come in camp in great shape with a great attitude. Like any competitor, you don’t like to make mistakes but you try to learn from them, and he has. He’s done a super job preparing himself and I expect him to have a tremendous year this year.”
EASING INTO LEADERSHIP
Ben Roethlisberger picked apart the first-team defense in three easy pieces yesterday for a touchdown in the highlighted 2-minute drill.
Roethlisberger hit Tyler Grisham with a bomb down the left sideline on the third snap, the third straight completion.
The Steelers’ quarterback is looking sharp and feeling easy, a maturity befitting the team’s second-oldest offensive starter. Roethlisberger even spoke as if he were part of the staff when the topic turned to speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace.
“It’s gotten to the point where with him we can start working on other routes,” Roethlisberger said of Wallace’s progression.
“Say the first year he had 3 routes. Last year he had maybe 8 routes. This year we’ve got him on 10 to 12, you know what I’m saying? Every year we get him more involved and to do more things.”
Can Wallace reach his stated goal of 2,000 receiving yards?
“I don’t want to hear him talk to me about that stuff,” Roethlisberger said.
Missing practice with minor injuries Tuesday were Wallace, Curtis Brown, Weslye Saunders, Emmanuel Sanders, Mario Harvey, Adam Mims, Bryant McFadden, Ramon Foster and Limas Sweed.
Tomlin on whether he’s where he would be in another year (?):
“I’m not concerned about it based on where I would normally be at this time of year. I’m concerned about it relative to the people we’re competing against. We’re all faced with the same obstacles, so it makes it fair. That’s what we need to deal with. If we focused on how we felt this time of year, this time of year and past years, all of us would be extremely frustrated. That’d be naïve.”