Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall left the team's 17-10 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday with a hamstring injury. The fourth-year back out of Illinois injured his leg on a three-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
In Mendenhall's place, Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman filled in and rotated carries throughout the rest of the game. While Mendenhall hasn't been ruled out of the team's Week 5 matchup with the Tennessee Titans, it isn't looking good for him to be at full speed.
Against the Texans, Redman looked very good filling in. The 26-year-old gained 40 yards on six carries and added a 12-yard reception. He showed good burst and the ability to get something out of nothing, with Pittsburgh's offensive line having issues opening any running lanes.
Mendenhall has struggled mightily to get things going this year. He has carried the ball 58 times for just 173 yards and two touchdowns. That average of 2.98 per carry is simply atrocious for a guy of his ability. In 2009 Mendenhall finished the season with 1,108 yards on 242 carries (4.6 per rush), and in 2010 he had 1,274 yards on 324 carries (3.9 per rush). Clearly it has been a down year for the 24-year-old.
It might be best for the Steelers to shelve Mendenhall for this weekend's game even if he is capable of playing. They will be facing a Titans team that is allowing just 3.2 yards per carry, which is fourth-best in the NFL.
Redman should get a chance to carry the ball a lot this weekend even if Mendenhall does suit up and he'll get a chance to show what he can do. I'm not ready to say he's a better option right now, but if Mendy doesn't step up his game very soon, he'll likely hear Redman breathing down his neck.