By Eric Schmidt

Coming off an ACL tear he sustained on January 1, the Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for RB Rashard Mendenhall to start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Mendenhall has told reporters numerous times this offseason that he intends to be ready to play Week One of the 2012 regular season but the Steelers organization is preparing as if he won’t be available.

Mendenhall, 24, has been a productive back for the Steelers with career highs coming in 2010 when he rushed for 1273 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Illinois product is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will be a free agent after this season.

Steelers general manager told reporters this week that he expects Mendenhall as well as DT Casey Hampton to both start the season on the PUP list given the timing and severity of their injuries. “My guess is they’ll start the season on PUP. You’ve got to remember both of these injuries happened late in the year,” said Colbert.

If Mendenhall is placed on the PUP list, Isaac Redman will assume the role of starting running back for the Steelers for at least the first portion of the regular season. Redman told reporters last week that he is prepared to carry the load for the Steelers.

In related Steelers news, Friday was the deadline for WR Mike Wallace to sign his tender offer for $2.7 million salary in 2012. The productive receiver failed to sign his offer sheet and the stalemate continues between the two sides. Failure to sign the tender prior to the deadline could have resulted in the Steelers reducing his offer by as much as $2 million dollars. Colbert told reporters that the Steelers never considered reducing his offer and the tender stands at $2.7 million.






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