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Scouting Notebook: Rashard returns

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

Rashard Mendenhall came back in Week 5 with a vengeance and the lesson is that torn ACLs are no longer a big deal. They're like torn elbows with pitchers. Expect a nine-month hiatus and a full recovery.

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Rashard Mendenhall made a strong return from his ACL injury in Week 5.

Not only did Mendenhall's knee look 100 percent on that burst down the sideline after catching that swing pass/lateral, but he had 101 yards on just 16 touches – not including a 21-yard run lost when Mike Wallace lined up incorrectly at snap.

Another back on everyone's radar this year is Alex Green of Green Bay, who I thought would have won the job by now. But Cedric Benson's injury finally paved the way. However, at press time Benson's injury was thought to be minor. Either way, pick Green up. He showed versatility and decent pass blocking and, of course, good running – especially on a 41-yarder on a key fourth-quarter drive where he hit the hole and then made multiple defenders miss.

Jordy Nelson owners like me are ticked off about James Jones. Some guys just are not good enough to rise to the challenge of being a No. 1 receiver. That's why you see so many free agent busts after guys get thrust into that role. I badly overrated Nelson, it appears. Yes, I know that Aaron Rodgers missed him on a possible TD pass, but Nelson rarely exerts his will on the game.

Ben Roethlisberger owners had a rough day. He lost a TD pass on an overzealous press-box ruling – anything overhand is a pass in my book. Then Antonio Brown drops an easy TD catch. Jerricho Cotchery can walk into the end zone but falls down at Eagles three for some reason. And finally, Mike Wallace dropped/misplayed another perfect drop from Roethlisberger where he could still be running.

The Bills last week allowed two 100-yard rushers and a 300-yard passer. This week, 300 rushing yards and 300 passing yards. What's next? Who knows but hope your guys play them, yes, even if they are Cardinals.

Alex Smith is the 12th QB since 1990 to throw for 300-plus yards on 24 or less attempts. As I tweeted earlier in the weekend (@MichaelSalfino), pick up Kendall Hunter (81 yards, 11 carries) now because he will be dynamite if Frank Gore gets hurt and he's at least a bye-week flex in the meantime.

Falcons coach Mike Smith said this week that the combination of Robert Griffin III's running ability, tricky formations (the Pistol), zone blocking schemes and the great cutback ability of Alfred Morris makes Washington's running game almost impossible to stop. But Griffin's recklessness sure can stop it. He was concussed on a stupid play on third down that was all downside. Mike Shanahan has told him to run out of bounds in situations like that. But he fought for meaningless yards and cost his team a game. And can we stop calling concussions "mild" and just call them concussions? Oh, and Morris had a 20-yard catch, too, haters. Shanny said he's making big strides as a receiver and in pass protection. So, top five back rest of season, easy (if RGIII stays healthy).

The Packers got Lucked today. And so did anyone playing him. Yahoo! colleague @AndyBehrens noted his three 45-plus passing attempts games and 700-plus attempts pace. Fantasy football is a volume racket. But we must note his missing a wide open Donnie Avery for a 50-yard TD.

I never thought Reggie Wayne would produce near this level without Peyton Manning, not that Luck is a slouch but still. … Wayne is the eighth oldest receiver since 1960 with 200-plus passing yards, after Terrell Owens (twice), James Lofton, Don Maynard, Rod Smith, Shannon Sharpe and Pete Retzlaff.

The Patriots are showing all the dumb, old-school coaches that you can pass to set up the run, too. Tom Brady owners cannot be happy about this. If it wasn't for two TD runs that you cannot bank on, these past two weeks would have been disasters relative to the total Patriots offensive production. Brady did lose a TD to Brandon Lloyd because they didn't bother to ask for a replay review on first and goal at the one-foot line in the hurry-up. It stinks that we can only lose touchdowns in the booth but never gain them unless a coach challenges.

Who is the real Chris Johnson now? I'll say more this one than the one last week due to the body of recent evidence.

Demaryius Thomas is everything Dez Bryant was supposed to be. Bryant is on the first team of the overhyped "talents" you never will regret fading on draft day. We'll put Jermichael Finley at tight end, and Kenny Britt at the other wideout. The backfield is Darren McFadden and Steven Jackson. Michael Vick starts at quarterback.

Monster game for Tony Gonzalez, whose skills have proven to be remarkably durable. He's the oldest player ever to catch more than 12 passes in a game, surpassing Tim Brown (2002).

Eli Manning showed what separates him from the guys like Joe Flacco, who you can't trust no matter the matchup. Eli gets his points every week and may be the best quarterback in reality right now. It's a plug-in-play passing game in New York because of him. Reuben Randle would have had 100 receiving yards today if necessary, following Ramses Barden and Domenik Hixon in consecutive weeks.

The Giants didn't have over 125 yards rushing in the regular season since December 2010 (23 games). With Ahmad Bradshaw running for two bills, you can go ahead and cut Andre Brown, who also suffered a concussion – especially with David Wilson showing the explosiveness that made him a first-round pick. The Giants say pass protection woes were costing Brown playing time even when healthy.

Reggie Bush looked like he was wearing a jet pack in getting down the sideline and through a bunch of Bengals who looked like they had angles. But otherwise, he was quiet. Still, he's a top 10 running back in my book and would be higher if not for losing goal-line carries despite being 11-for-23 on goal-line runs through 2011, 47.8 percent. The NFL average last year was 44.1 percent.

I stand 100 percent behind my statement earlier this year that Donald Brown is a better rest-of-season bet than Doug Martin. The Colts are going to score. Brown is in there in catch-up mode, too. If you can make that trade with Martin having had his bye, do so pronto.

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