Mendenhall more than holding his own with Big Ben out

Posted Oct. 04, 2010 @ 1:27 p.m.
Posted By Michael Blunda

Even though defenses knew exactly who would be getting the ball with QB Ben Roethlisberger suspended, Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall has gotten the job done through four weeks.

After running for 79 yards and two TDs on 25 attempts vs. the tough Ravens "D" on Sunday, Mendenhall ranks among the league rushing leaders across the board. He's No. 2 in carries (89) and rushing yards (411) and tied for first in rushing TDs (four). And he's gaining 4.6 yards per carry despite facing some stout defenses along the way.

So what will happen to Mendenhall once Big Ben returns following the Steelers' Week Five bye? Well, it's unlikely he'll continue to get 22.3 rushing attempts per contest, but it might not affect his final tallies. With opposing defenses forced to respect the pass and unable to stack the box, the third-year back should find more room to roam. Even though he might not reach 20 carries in many contests, he could pick up just as many yards as he has been because of the relaxed defensive fronts he's likely to see.

If you're one of Mendenhall's owners, don't be concerned. While Roethlisberger may steal the spotlight when he comes back, he's not going to steal Mendenhall's numbers. The back is simply playing too well for that to happen.