Rashard Mendenhall did some work in practice for the 2nd straight week, just 9 months removed from a torn ACL, but he is once again very unlikely to play this week. When they first activated him off the PUP, the plan was for him to sit for the first 3 weeks of the season, do a little work in practice with the team to get back into shape, and then to return week 5 after their bye. So far, everything seems to have gone according to plan, so we won’t see him this week or next week.
In his absence, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer predictably split carries, but Dwyer definitely outshined him, totaling 47 yards on 11 touches, as opposed to 22 yards on 13 touches for Redman. As a result, head coach Mike Tomlin has said that Dwyer will get an expandable role this week, as he did as the game progressed last week. Expect him to start and if you are going to start one of these backs in fantasy, Dwyer is your man, though neither is advisable unless you absolutely need to because they should basically cancel each other out against a normally stout Jets run defense that returns Sione Pouha from injury this week.
The good news for the Steelers is that both of their injured offensive linemen, Ramon Foster and Marcus Gilbert, who left last week’s game, are expected to play. In their absences, Doug Legursky and Mike Adams struggled and the Steelers were down to their last healthy, active offensive linemen. Ben Roethlisberger’s protection should be better this week, unless someone else gets hurt, facing an Jets’ inferior pass rush. The Broncos’ strong pass rush pressured Roethlisberger on 18 of 46 drop backs last week, the 5th highest rate in the league. It’s a welcome relief for a Steelers’ offensive line that saw 1st round pick rookie David DeCastro suffer a potentially season ending injury in the preseason and 2nd round pick rookie Mike Adams lose his starting job to veteran Max Starks.