ESPN's Josina Anderson is confirming the notion we mentioned earlier this week that running back Rashard Mendenhall will go from the suspended list to the dress list in Pittsburgh's Week 16 game against Cincinnati.
Sources: Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall will be active today. Mendenhall has been told his participation will depend on the flow of the game— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) December 23, 2012
Our reason was really just because it's time to stop messing around with the hopes of developing younger players and go with the guy who's been there.
There are still lingering concerns over whether Mendenhall has recovered enough to be an effective runner in this game - or any other this season - but as Coach Tomlin would say, it's time to let the big dog eat.
If Mendenhall is embarrassed about his demotion, fine. If he's eager to prove Tomlin wrong, even better. It's put-up-or-shut-up time for Mendenhall, and a running game needs to be established early in this game.
The best runners don't need 15 carries before they can start to produce. They also don't need to break every single run in order for the team to have an effective running game. Hit the hole, let the offensive line deal some punishment. Hopefully, the running back - whomever it will be carry-to-carry - can produce enough to keep the Steelers out of the constant third-and-long situations they've been dealing with, and let the offensive line attack in run blocking instead of catching and mirroring in pass protection.
Mendenhall needs to step up and be a leader today. No more excuses.