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Rashard Mendenhall still Steelers' starter when healthy

Despite recent success by Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, the Pittsburgh Steelers say that Rashard Mendenhall will remain the starting running back whenever he returns from an Achilles injury.

Jared Wickerham

Despite three consecutive 100-yard games by Pittsburgh Steelers running backs, the team insists that Rashard Mendenhall will be the starter when he is healthy.

Eight games into the season, Mendenhall has only suited up twice. He missed the first three games of the year while rehabbing a knee injury suffered in the final game last season as well as the last three games with an Achilles injury suffered in the team's loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Early in the year, the Steelers were 31st in rushing as Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman failed to move the ball on the ground. But Dwyer busted out for 107 and 122 yards in back-to-back weeks, and with Dwyer injured Sunday against the Giants, Redman had a career-high 147 yards on the ground.

However, Mendenhall, who has registered 1,000 yards in two of his three full seasons since being drafted in the first round in 2008, will start when he's ready to play, according to running backs coach Kirby Wilson.

"Rashard is the complete package — power, speed, explosiveness," Wilson said. "He is the guy who can take a 10-yard run and make people miss and get 20 more. We think Jonathan has things that he is great at. Isaac has some things that he is great at. But Rashard is the complete package. Rashard has proved that he can do it over the long haul."

It's not clear whether Mendenhall will be able to play Monday night when the team takes on the Kansas City Chiefs. Wilson added that although Mendenhall will start, the running back that is having the most success in any given game will be allowed the opportunity to continue playing, possibly suggesting a by-committee approach as the team has found three capable runners.

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