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Rashard Mendenhall Injury: Steelers Running Back Not Sure When He'll Return

Rashard Mendenhall has returned to practice, but it's unclear when the Steelers can expect the fifth-year running back to see bonafide playing time.

Mendenhall hurt his knee late last season and required reconstructive surgery, coming off the PUP list on Aug. 17. As such, the Steelers are rightfully taking the running back's return to real action, complete with tackles and sharp cuts, slowly. That means he won't be playing in their next preseason game, or in the season opener Sept. 9 against Denver.

"To be real, I don’t know when I’ll be ready to play," said Mendenhall, who injured his right knee in the 2011 regular-season finale Jan. 1 at Cleveland. "I’m just working with the training staff and doing what I can to get on the field."

Mendenhall's uncertain status leaves the Steelers in a bit of a bind. Pittsburgh was already prepared to start Isaac Redman in Mendenhall's place, but he's been bothered by a hip injury. Although he seems set to play, the injury could nag. With both hurting, it seems certain that neither player will enter the season at 100 percent. Jonathan Dwyer is the pair's backup.

For more coverage of the Steelers, visit our blog Behind The Steel Curtain or SB Nation Pittsburgh.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.