Rashard Mendenhall: Timing Couldn't Be Better for Steelers RB's Return to Lineup

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVNovember 22, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 18:  Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushes against Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens during the game on November 18, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Ravens defeated the Steelers 13-10.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

With a plethora of injuries piling up in Pittsburgh, the Steelers couldn't have gotten back their star running back, Rashard Mendenhall, at a better time.

With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out, the Steelers are desperate for offensive playmakers.

This rings even more true as Antonio Brown has missed a considerable amount of time and Jerrico Cotchery just broke a couple ribs.

To make matters worse, Isaac Redman's concussion (according to Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest) against the Ravens will prove that Mendenhall's return to action and ability to carry the ball 25 to 30 times per game is even more valuable than before.

Mendenhall didn't exactly have a breakout performance in his first game back in over a month against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

He had 11 carries for 33 yards, but it's doubtful that he was 100 percent healthy heading into the game and was likely fighting through pain to give his team another offensive weapon.

After backup quarterback Byron Leftwich fractured two ribs in Sunday's loss—yes, I'm being serious, the injury bug has been that generous to Pittsburgh in recent weeks—the Steelers are rolling with third-stringer Charlie Batch against Cleveland, according to ESPN news services.

At this point in the season, it's easier to point out the Steelers offensive weapons that are indeed still healthy: Mike Wallace, Heath Miller, Jonathan Dwyer and the newly-acquired Plaxico Burress.

Considering he's undoubtedly the best ball-carrier on the roster and one of the best in the division, the Steelers certainly wanted to get Mendenhall back as soon as possible (regardless of their injury situation).

Their wide-scoping injury problems only hammer it home even more as to why Mendenhall's return is coming at the perfect time.

Pittsburgh is still in prime position for a playoff run at 6-4, but dropping their last contest to Baltimore and nearly losing to the hapless Kansas City Chiefs in an overtime contest the week prior only highlights the struggles in Steeler-land. 

All the more reason to bring back Mendenhall, their bruising knight in shining armor.