The Pittsburgh Steelers have disappointed with their lackluster start to the 2011 NFL season. And in a crucial upcoming Week 5 game Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, things could get worse - they could be without their starting running back.
Mendenhall's status for the Steelers game Sunday against the Titans is uncertain after the running back missed practice Wednesday. He is nursing an injured hamstring he suffered in last week's loss to the Houston Texans.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters Wednesday that the team was encouraged Mendenhall would be able to practice on Thursday. If he cannot go on Thursday, it would be unlikely that he would see much time against the Titans.
Like the Steelers collectively, Mendenhall has gotten off to a slow individual start to the season. He has gained only 173 yards in 58 attempts, a three-yards-per-carry average. He has picked up his game over the past two weeks but still does not have a game with more than 78 total yards.
Rough goings for a 24-year-old running back who was expected to build on his 1,273-yard, 13-touchdown season from a year ago.
Meanwhile, third-down running back Mewelde Moore also might miss Sunday's game. He is nursing a high ankle sprain.
That leaves Isaac Redman, who has been one of the few bright spots for the Steelers thus far. He has gained 107 yards on 22 carries, a 4.9 average. Fantasy owners, not to mention Tomlin, will look for him to produce Sunday. He may even eclipse his season total in one game Sunday.
As for Mendenhall, his status should become clearer on Thursday.