'Rashard's the Man'

Rashard Mendenhall is healthy and back in the starting lineup. Also, today's notebook includes an interesting tidbit on James Harrison's back problem.

PITTSBURGH – Rashard Mendenhall will return to his starting tailback position with the Steelers on Sunday, if his hamstring continues to hold up through the week's final practices.

Mendenhall worked again Thursday after sitting out last Sunday's game. In his place, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer combined for 174 yards, the Steelers' highest rushing total of the season.

"Rashard's the man," said offensive coordinator Bruce Arians when asked to identify the starter. "He's ready to go and everything will be back to normal, except for Mewelde [Moore]. He'll probably not be able to make it."

Arians said that Dwyer, whose 76-yard run made up the bulk of his 107 yards against Tennessee, will be available for emergencies only.

"There's three rather than two," Arians explained. "As long as he's got the ball in his hands, it's fine. I'm fine with that. And he did a nice job in the rest of his role last week. He's probably earned a lot of respect from a lot of people, doing the job that he did when he got his opportunity last week."

As for Redman, whose workload increased to 15 carries from an average of 5.5 in the first four games, "we'll see how the game goes," Arians said.


Hines Ward cleared a hurdle last week in the person of Michael Griffin for a Steelers touchdown. This week he'll more than likely clear another hurdle, this one in the person of Michael Irvin, whose 11,904 yards receiving ranks him 19th on the NFL's all-time list.

Ward currently has 11,892 yards and needs 13 to pass Irvin. A 108-yard game would push him to 12,000.

"Twelve thousand means a lot," Ward said. "Not too many guys can say they have 12,000 yards. To do it all for this organization would be just a great milestone for me."

As for hurdling Griffin for the 5-yard touchdown, Ward couldn't explain why.

"I have no idea," he said with a laugh. "I texted him the other day, I was like ‘Sorry.' He was like ‘What made you do that?' I said ‘I have no idea.' It was luck I guess.

"That was just instincts. You catch it. It was a hot route. I guess he thought I was going to come in and try to bully him over."


In polls taken of players by SI.com, James Harrison was voted the meanest player in football and Troy Polamalu was voted the nicest.

Neither player was available for comment. Harrison, according to a source, was busy squatting 400 pounds at high reps, without a lifting belt, a sign that Harrison's back is coming around while he sits out the month with a broken orbital bone.


Harrison was among a half dozen Steelers who missed their second full day of practice Thursday. The others were RT Marcus Gilbert, NT Casey Hampton, RB Mewelde Moore, LG Chris Kemoeatu, and DE Aaron Smith.

Returning in a limited capacity were CB Cortez Allen and OLB Jason Worilds.

FS Ryan Clark returned for the full practice.


Arians on why the offensive line played so well last Sunday:

"They could hear. Three out of the first four games were really loud road games and it's fairly tough. It was a better game. It wasn't our best game, I don't think, that we're capable of. I think the numbers were good but they can be better."

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