Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall told reporters Wednesday afternoon he expects to "practice in full," according to Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Should he practice without discomfort for the rest of the week, it seems likely that he will get the starting nod this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Due to a nagging hamstring injury, the Steelers made Mendenhall, their usual starting running back, available only in case of emergency this past Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. In his absence, Pittsburgh took a by-committee approach to the running game, splitting carries between Isaac Redman (15) and Jonathan Dwyer (11).
Mendenhall has struggled in 2011; through four games, he's averaging just three yards per carry and has scored only two touchdowns. While injuries to the Steelers' offensive line have played a role in Mendenhall's poor production, they're not enough to explain away all of his issues.
Jacksonville has lost each of its last four games, but it defends the run at a better-than-average rate, allowing 3.7 yards per carry (No. 8 in the NFL) to opponents and yielding three touchdowns on the ground (No. 9). If healthy enough to play Sunday, Mendenhall surely has his work cut out for him.