STEELERS FREE AGENCY BUZZ Running back Rashard Mendenhall is reunited with Bruce Arians. Mendenhall this afternoon agreed to a one year deal worth around $2.5 – $3 million, turning down an opportunity to join the Denver Broncos. Mendenhall’s camp had been discussing a longer term with both teams but Mendenhall has opted to try to prove himself again and cash in next off-season at age 26. Now it remains to be seen whether Denver might have been the better fit for Mendenall. In Denver he would have had an all-pro quarterback around him in Peyton Manning and a strong offensive line. Arizona has neither. *It has been absolutely dead quiet on Steelers CB Keenan Lewis. Indications are no one is showing interest in throwing big money at Lewis that would make Lewis out of the Steelers price range. It’s another story whether the Steelers will make an offer.
MENDENHALL DRAWING INTEREST Running back Rashard Mendenhall enters free agency coming off the worst season of his career, but Mendenhall doesn’t figure to be on the free agent market long. Four teams are expressing steady interest in Mendenhall, an NFL source tells Inside Pittsburgh Sports. Two teams that expressed immediate interest over the weekend when teams were allowed to begin talking to agents were the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins. The Denver Post reported on Sunday that the Denver Broncos also have interest in Mendenall. At age 25 Mendenhall doesn’t have a lot of tread on his tires and one NFL source predicted Mendenhall will land at least $3 million per season, despite the concerns around the league of whether Mendenhall takes his profession serious enough which is why the Steelers are prepared to move on without him.
By Dale Grdnic PITTSBURGH — After a couple hard practice days, Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison backed off Thursday and second-year pro Chris Carter handled the starting spot on the right side of the club’s defense. Harrison (left knee), who did not participate at all in Thursday’s practice, was expected to return Friday. He also said he would discuss his health after the Steelers’ Friday practice, which is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. If Harrison can’t play against the Denver Broncos Sunday night, second-year player Chris Carter is expected to get the start. Carter played extensively during the preseason, and Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau would not hesitate to start him this week. “Definitely,” LeBeau said. “Definitely, he’s a promising young player. He really brings a lot of energy. He’s in great shape, and he played the whole preseason like he wants to be here, like heRead More »
By Dale Grdnic PITTSBURGH — Running back Rashard Mendenhall is tied for 23rd in the NFL with 148 rushing yards in three games, a 3.0 average per run and just one touchdown, and the Pittsburgh Steelers hold the same ranking in team rushing. Sure, it’s just three games, but this is a marked difference from past years when the Steelers have been rated among the NFL’s best rushing offenses, while Mendenhall has been near the top as well. He had 1,108 rushing yards (4.6 average) and seven touchdowns in 2009 and 1,273 yards (3.9) with 13 scores this past season. Other than the obvious, that the Steelers offensive line has been ravaged by injuries and the play has been sub-par at best, some believe that Mendenhall isn’t running as hard as before. The running back disagreed. “The run game is a lot bigger than one person, the offensive line orRead More »
Offensive Breakdown The Steelers will come out of the lockout, almost $11 million over the salary cap and will have to say goodbye to some key contributors from last season. While on the defensive side of the ball, extending Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons are top priorities, we take a look on the offensive side of the ball today with top candidates to be released or have their deals restructured. Antwaan Randle El, Flozell Adams and Arnaz Battle are among the top candidates to be released, while Max Starks who carries a $7.9 million cap hit, is a top candidate to have his deal restructured. Here is a look at the Steelers depth chart, salaries, buzz on each position and top candidates to be restructured or released due to cap reasons: Quarterbacks 1. Ben Roethlisberger (29) – Signed through 2015 | $11.4 million salary in 2011 | 2.Read More »
Champion has dropped Rashard Mendenhall as an endorser in the wake of his tweets about Osama Bin Laden this week. Champion dropping Mendenhall will be one of many endorsement deals he figures to lose. According to the USA today, Mendenhall recently signed a 4-year contract extension to endorse Champion athletic wear through 2015. That extended a 3-year deal with the unit of Hanesbrands first inked in 2008. “Champion is a strong supporter of the government’s efforts to fight terrorism and is very appreciative of the dedication and commitment of the U.S. Armed Forces. Earlier this week, Rashard Mendenhall, who endorses Champion products, expressed personal comments and opinions regarding Osama bin Laden and the September 11 terrorist attacks that were inconsistent with the values of the Champion brand and with which we strongly disagreed. In light of these comments, Champion was obliged to conduct a business assessment to determine whether Mr.Read More »
Week 5 STUDS Matt Forte RB, Chicago Bears (166 rushing yards, two touchdowns); Ray Rice RB, Baltimore Ravens (133 rushing yards, two touchdowns) Hakeem Nicks WR, NY Giants (12 receptions, 130 yards, 2 touchdowns); Phillip Rivers QB, San Diego Chargers (431 yards, 2 touchdowns) Malcolm Floyd WR, San Diego Chargers (213 yards, 1 touchdown); Brandon Lloyd WR, Denver Broncos (135 yards, 2 touchdowns) Miles Austin WR, Dallas Cowboys (166 yards, 1 touchdown) Week 5 DUDS Todd Collins QB, Chicago Bears (6 of 16, 32 yards, 4 interceptions); Jimmy Clausen QB, Carolina Panthers (9 of 21, 61 yards, 1 interception) Arian Foster RB, Houston Texans (11 carries, 25 yards); Anquan Boldin WR, Baltimore Ravens (1 reception, 8 yards) Beanie Wells RB, Arizona Cardinals (20 carries, 35 yards) Week 6 Preview BYE: Cardinals, Bills, Panthers, Bengals START Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger vs Cleveland Analysis: Normally, I would wait a week to see howRead More »
By Dale Grdnic PITTSBURGH — Among the gripes about this past season for the Pittsburgh Steelers was the club’s diminished running game. When the Steelers needed to run the ball, be it in short-yardage, goal-line or game-closing situations, they were not able to get the job done. This led to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger setting a team passing record, and the Steelers not making the playoffs. If Steelers president Art Rooney II has his way, and that’s usually the case, the running game will be a point of emphasis this season. Rooney talked with Mike Tomlin about it, and the Steelers head coach has discussed the situation with offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. “We have to get back to being able to run the football when we need to run the football and being able to run more consistently than we have in this past season,” Rooney said after the season. RashardRead More »
By Mike Bires One reason why the Steelers can be dangerous if they get into the playoffs _ and that’s still a big if _ is the possibility of Troy Polamalu lining up again at strong safety. But another reason is LaMarr Woodley’s continued rise toward stardom. Right outside linebacker James Harrison, the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, received nationwide claim the past two seasons for the havoc he’s wreaked on opposing defenses. But last year in the playoffs, Woodley, the Steelers’ left outside ‘backer, had a six-to-one edge over Harrison in sacks. “He’s been that kind of guy since he’s been here,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Woodley. “His rookie year, he came on late in the year. Late last year, he was playing good football. He’s a guy that’s on the rise at the appropriate time and that’s what makes him a good player.”Read More »
Townsend earns 1st start of the season In a move that should have been considered weeks ago, cornerback Deshea Townsend took first team reps at cornerback all week and will make his first start of the season Sunday afternoon against the Baltimore Ravens. Townsend will replace William Gay in the starting lineup. However, in the nickel base defense, Townsend will slide back as the nickel back –position he has played all season. Based on practice this week, Joe Burnett will see his playing time decrease a bit this week. Steelers focus on Ray Rice The Steelers focus this week is on Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice exploited the Steelers in their week 12 matchup and the Steelers primary focus is limiting Rice in the passing game. The Ravens found ways to get Rice matched up against James Farrior in key situations during the previous meeting and they will lookRead More »