Rashard Mendenhall Injury: Shifty Steelers RB Still Worth Holding on to in 2012

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2012

December 8, 2011; Pittsburgh,PA, USA: Pittsburgh Steelers  running back Rashard Mendenhall (34) carries the ball against the Cleveland Browns during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 14-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE
Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Now is not the time for impatient fantasy owners to give up on banged-up Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall.

Although the image of Mendenhall watching helplessly from the sideline as the Steelers fell to the Tennessee Titans is still fresh in the minds of bitter fans and fantasy owners, it won't be the last one they are left with this season

NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport delivered tremendous news to Steelers fans and curious fantasy owners on Friday via Twitter:

Good news for #Steelers: Hear that RB Rashard Mendenhall's Achilles injury is minor. Will be big how it responds this weekend.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 12, 2012

Mendenhall will have 10 days to rest his Achilles before Pittsburgh travels to Cincinnati to play the Bengals in Week 7. Side note: Cincinnati ranks 19th against the run in 2012. The Bengals have allowed 4.4 yards per carry and seven touchdowns on the ground in five games heading into Week 6.

Not only should Mendenhall's Achilles be in better shape come Oct. 21, but he'll be even closer to 100 percent less than one year removed from suffering a brutal knee injury. 

The former Illinois star had an impressive debut against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5, recording 68 yards on 13 carries and finishing the game with 16 touches for 101 total yards and a receiving touchdown. That mighty performance brought back memories of Mendenhall's 1,100-yard season in 2009 and his 1,200-yard season in 2010.

Fantasy owners must not forget that Mendenhall is a four-yards-per-carry back who was on pace for a third consecutive 1,000-yard season in 2011 before going down on New Year's Day. 

Mendenhall is also a must-start if cleared to play in Week 7 at Cincinnati. He rushed for four touchdowns total in two games against the Bengals in 2011 and should have plenty of looks at the end zone, considering only two teams in the NFL have allowed more rushing scores than Cincinnati through the season's first five weeks.

Rashard Mendenhall is too talented a running back and possesses too much potential for fantasy owners to let him go this season because of a minor injury scare.

Hang in there. It will pay off.


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