October 12, 2012
So Pittsburgh had a rough night in Tennessee on Thursday, losing to the Titans on a last-second field goal, 26-23.
The Steelers also lost a pair of starting offensive linemen to injuries — center Maurkice Pouncey (MCL) and tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) — as well as their No. 1 and No. 2 running backs. Rashard Mendenhall was having an utterly forgettable night just 17 yards on seven touches) before an Achilles injury sidelined him early in the third quarter, following a two-yard loss.
Isaac Redman fared much better than Mendenhall, gaining 119 total yards on nine touches, but he checked out late in the third after taking a helmet to his right knee, apparently tweaking his ankle as he went to the ground. That's Redman in the screen-grab above, walking slowly with a trainer at his side. You'll notice Mendenhall in the image, too, over on the right. Rashard had his helmet on, perhaps expecting to return to the game.
Instead, depth-chart back Baron Batch took over. He eventually rushed for 22 yards on 10 carries, crossing the goal line once. I didn't exactly rush to add Batch in any leagues, so I won't give you a hard sell today.
Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin couldn't offer many details on the Redman or Mendenhall injuries following the game, so at this point all we can really do is speculate. Redman was ruled "probable" to return on Thursday night, which seemed like a good sign (until he didn't return). Mendenhall never actually went to the locker room, another encouraging detail. But, like Redman, he remained a spectator.
The Steelers now have a few extra off-days before their Week 7 meeting with Cincinnati, and they'll clearly need the recovery time. The fantasy community will be focused on Pittsburgh's backfield, but let's not underestimate the potential impact of these O-line injuries. It was just a bad, bad evening for that team, one that could have far-reaching impact. At the very least, Mendenhall's value takes a significant hit. He was coming off a terrific regular season debut against Philly (101 yards, TD), but it seems he doesn't yet belong in the circle of trust.
If you're a Pittsburgh fan, perhaps the only positive takeaway from Thursday's loss was the brief-yet-satisfying discussion of Frenchy Fuqua (see above), a man who once wore this shoe. So there's that. Otherwise, brutal night.