The Steelers enter the 2012 season with a few durability concerns in the backfield, but they don't appear as great as they could be.
Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall, who’s coming off an ACL tear, practiced with the first-team offense leading up to the season opener at Denver, though he’s listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game. “Everything I’ve been asked to do I’ve been able to do it and do it well,” Mendenhall said of his knee in advance of Week One, according to the club.
Not long after the injury, Mendenhall’s agent, Rick Smith, estimated Mendenhall’s recovery time at 6-9 months; the running back is now more than eight months removed from the injury. While Mendenhall remains on the mend, he’s not on the PUP list, where some speculated he would land. When he returns, Mendenhall looks poised to return to his starting role; he’s listed as first-string on the depth chart.
Another story line to watch in the Steelers’ backfield is the progress of third-year pro Jonathan Dwyer, who has stepped up his game and become a viable threat for serious work. Head coach Mike Tomlin said the 23-year-old Dwyer has matured and “is in better physical condition than he has been in the past.” Meanwhile, Isaac Redman, listed ahead of Dwyer on the depth chart, has battled some nagging injuries, though nothing that's expected to affect his availability.