Steelers’ running back Rashard Mendenhall saw his 2011 season come to a crashing halt when he tore his ACL in the final game of the season against the Cleveland Browns. It wasn’t the ending he envisioned by a long shot, but Mendenhall dealt with the injury by keeping a positive attitude, looking forward and not back.
“It wasn’t frustrating for me,” said Mendenhall recently. “I believe that everything happens for a reason. My priorities just changed. I was thinking what do I have to do now? What is going to happen? I just focused on getting back and getting healthy.”
Getting fully healthy could take a while. On Monday General Manager Kevin Colbert said that he isn’t sure when Mendenhall will be ready and even indicated the injury could “possibly” keep him sidelined all year.
“Potentially Rashard Mendenhall might not be ready for camp,” said Colbert. “In my mind, I never feel good about an ACL until a year. I am not a doctor but that’s just my mindset. If he gets back before then, to me it’s a bonus. Is he a potential candidate for the PUP List? Absolutely.”
Mendenhall is working his way back, even if it is a slow process. There have been some ups and downs, and for an athlete who is used to doing everything for himself, what he learned was he had to depend on others.
“It was tough,” said Mendenhall. “It wasn’t the pain as much as almost being helpless, having to depend on people, normal things being real hard. It was a tough time but you learn to appreciate the little things.”
The person he has depended on the most is his mother, Sibyl Mendenhall, who stayed in Pittsburgh to help him with the normal things the surgery has prevented him from doing.
“It was really helpful having her around,” said Mendenhall. “It’s been a peaceful time. It would be tough not having someone here. I don’t know what I would do by myself.”
Mendenhall’s normal offseason routine of spending time at home relaxing for a while before getting back in the swing of things has changed to continuous rehab to get the knee back to where he wants it to be.
“It is more rehab now,” said Mendenhall. “All of the pain from the surgery has worn off. It’s now all getting range of motion back and getting back to myself.
“Right now it’s getting full range of motion back, bending the knee, straightening it back, things like that. At this point in time it’s important. You get that back now, you won’t have to worry about it later.”
Mendenhall has not circled a date on the calendar for when he wants to be back. He hasn’t put a timetable on it. He looks at it differently.
“I don’t look at time as much as being 100 percent,” said Mendenhall. “Whenever that happens and I am back to being me that is what is of utmost importance before anything. That is my focus…doing everything I can every day to make sure I will be back to normal.”