Pittsburgh Steelers' running back Rashard Mendenhall returned from his devastating knee injury on Sunday, racking up 101 total yards and playing far more efficiently than the other Steelers' running backs.
Some began to wonder if Mendenhall would regain feature back status at any point during this season, but it looks as if he'll be set to handle a full workload as soon as next week. Though he only carried the ball 14 times to Isaac Redman's 13, Mendenhall finished with nearly twice as many yards and ripped off 5.8 per carry against an Eagles defense that only gives up 4.0.
Mendenhall finished the game with 14 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown, along with two catches (on three targets) for 20 yards.
Already the Steelers' leading rusher after one game, Mendenhall's return is greatly appreciated by the entire organization. "I think he did a great job of finding the hole and hitting it," said left guard Willie Colon. "He didn't second-guess anything. He read it well. When he got holes he hit them. Just happy he's back with us."
Right guard Ramon Foster added that "it was a breath of fresh air to have him out there," and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said after the game that "the savior is back," speaking of Mendenhall.
After a pathetic start to the season running the ball, the Steelers will be hard pressed not to find ways to give Mendenhall a heavy workload. He's a vastly superior talent to the Steelers' other backfield options, and should be given as much work as his knee can handle. After the game, head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed that Mendenhall has suffered no setbacks in his return, so it seems that his knee is ready to handle NFL action.
If you held on to or picked up Mendenhall for your fantasy team, you're looking like quite the knowledgeable owner right now. However, he's still only owned in 77% of Yahoo! leagues, so I'd suggest making sure he's not still on the waiver wire this week. If leagues redrafted today, Mendenhall would probably be drafted in the first three or four rounds.