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7-on-7: Mendenhall rewards his loyalist(s), rushes for 165

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade

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We owe you two additional links. Apologies. This is normally "9-on-9." Very sorry. But right now, we're headed out the door to tape a moving tribute to David Garrard(notes), Steve Smith and the subject of our first blurb…

On Sunday night, Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall(notes) became the latest player to remind us that you can be a punchline in the NFL one week and a must-add fantasy commodity the next.

Mendnenhall was limited to special teams duty in Week 3 following an uncommonly bad week of practice. "Rashard wasn't on the detail (last) week," said Mike Tomlin. "So I chose not to play him on offense." Thus Mendenhall was completely shutout against Cincinnati: Zero carries, zero receptions, zero fantasy contributions.

But apparently he was somewhat more detail-oriented during his preparation for Week 4. With Willie Parker(notes) shelved due to turf toe, Mendenhall received more carries against the Chargers (29) than he'd previously had in his entire NFL career (26). He ran decisively against San Diego's heavily damaged defense, finishing with 165 rushing yards and two TDs. Highlights here via The Pittsburgh offensive line often encountered little resistance up the middle, as the Chargers were without Pro Bowl nose tackle Jamal Williams(notes) (IR - triceps).

Toe injuries are disastrous for running backs – those who owned Marshall Faulk(notes) in '96 and LT in '08 are painfully aware – so Parker can't be relied on in the weeks ahead. Pittsburgh's upcoming schedule is friendly (at DET, vs. CLE), so continue to play Mendenhall with confidence. None of you can match the enthusiasm that Evans has for Rashard, obviously, but you can start him nonetheless. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Correll Buckhalter(notes) sprained an ankle in the Broncos' 17-10 win over the Cowboys on Sunday. X-rays were reportedly negative, but this is clearly an injury that could impact him in Week 5 versus New England. Buckhalter was on crutches after the game. One more injury note from the same link: Roy Williams was sidelined after taking a huge hit from DJ Williams(notes). Tony Romo's(notes) misfire was to blame. It doesn't sound like the injury will affect Williams going forward, though. [Denver Post]
Marion Barber(notes) had a quiet second half against Denver, but apparently he did not aggravate his injured quad: "Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he [was] not told after the game that something was wrong with Barber, and his first order of business post-game is to get the injury updates from the medical staff." [Dallas Morning News]
Jerry Sullivan reports that Dick Jauron's job could be at risk: "Is Jauron's job safe it he loses to Cleveland? 'I'm worried about my job,' [Ralph] Wilson said. Then a PR staffer ended the interview before we had time to determine exactly what Ralph's job entails nowadays. … That did not sound like a vote of confidence for the head coach." The column is worth a full read. Sullivan rightly described Trent Edwards'(notes) play as "scared," "shell-shocked" and "timid." [The Buffalo News]
Eli Manning(notes) injured his right heel late in the Giants' win over the Chiefs, but after the game he said, "I don't think it's awful. I think I've been injured worse before." Manning has played the full 16 in each of the past four years, and he fought through a shoulder injury back in '07. He gets the benefit of the doubt. [New York Daily News]
John Hansen consults with a physician/fantasy aficionado for some insight on various injuries. Anthony Gonzalez(notes), Felix Jones(notes), Frank Gore(notes) and Kurt Warner(notes) are among the players covered in the house call. [Fantasy Guru]
If there is such a thing as a sleeper kicker, then the Saints' Garrett Hartley(notes) was it entering the 2009 season. He'll return from his four-game suspension following the bye week, so be prepared to add. From what I'm told, that New Orleans offense may have a little potential. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]


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