Wednesday’s Post-Practice Buzz: Mendenhall getting closer has O-line excited about anticipated return
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin generally handles the club’s injury news Tuesday during his weekly press conference, and he listed tight end Heath Miller as having a “rib cartilage separation (that) could limit him at the early portions of the week.”
Miller didn’t practice Wednesday, but was stunned when told about Tomlin’s diagnosis of his injury. Miller is listed on the team’s initial injury report as having an abdomen problem.
“Yeah, that’s news to me,” Miller said after being told about the rib injury. “That’s why I’m going to defer to Coach Tomlin on all injury questions. (But) it’s sore right now, and I think it’s something that was a cumulative injury. It just happened over time.
“I’m doing my best to get ready for Sunday, and I’m preparing to be ready to go. Hopefully, I’ll be able to play. I just took a lot of mental reps (Wednesday), and hopefully I’ll be able to practice more and more as the week goes on. So, we’ll see how I feel tomorrow and the next day.”
Tomlin also noted that running back Rashard Mendenhall, who suffered a serious knee injury Jan 1 in the regular-season finale at Cleveland, would pick up his practice regimen and get bumped around a bit more during contact drills.
“That they did,” Mendenhall said Wednesday. “It was cool. It felt normal. It felt natural. I guess they wanted to simulate a game situation and check my stabilization (in the knee). It was all good.”
Mendenhall added that he possibly could play Sunday at Oakland, but he was still taking it one day at a time. It is believed that Mendenhall, safety Troy Polamalu (strained right calf) and outside linebacker James Harrison (left knee) would be better served if they remained out this week and returned after the bye week that follows. Harrison and Polamalu did not practice Wednesday.
“Whenever I come back, I believe I can be as effective as I was before,” Mendenhall said. “This whole process I’ve gone through, rehabbing and taking it day by day, I’m preparing to get back to that level and nothing else. So, that’s what my focus is right now. … I feel good. I feel the same as before.”
As far as the Steelers offensive line is concerned, Mendenhall will be back when he he’s ready to go at full speed. But that day can’t come soon enough.
“We’ll welcome him back; that’s for sure,” offensive guard Ramon Foster said. “He’s looked pretty good, but we don’t want him to rush anything. And I’m sure the coaches feel the same way. Both sides have been patient with the whole process for Rashard, so it’ll happen soon enough.
“You know, the lifespan of a running back is really short, so if he re-injures it or has a setback, that shortens that lifespan even more. I think we’ll have a really good backfield when we get everybody healthy, so we definitely look forward to when that day arrives.”
It appears that running back Jonathan Dwyer has come up with another injury. Last week he had a heel problem, although he still played, and now he has a turf toe. That injury has caused problems for players in the past, so he likely will be monitored closely this week.
Right offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert
(groin) also has suffered a second type of injury, while wideouts
Emmanuel Sanders (knee) and Mike Wallace (groin) were new additions to the injury list.
Offensive tackle Mike Adams (back) and inside linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (knee) were listed as limited participants in practice Wednesday.