By Teresa Varley
Rashard Mendenhall got the lion's share of the carries when Willie Parker was out for two games with turf toe and that isn't going to change with Parker back in the lineup.
Parker returned to action against the Cleveland Browns last week and finished with seven carries for 26 yards. But Mendenhall was the workhorse, carrying the ball 17 times for 62 yards and a touchdown.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Mendenhall's performance over the last three weeks has earned him the right to continue to get the majority of the carries in the Steelers ground game, with or without Parker in there.
"At this point, it's ongoing (competition) but I will acknowledge that Rashard has earned the right to continue to take the majority of the snaps as we proceed. I think that's how we approach a lot of what we do," said Tomlin. "Who's going to give us the best chance to win on a week-to-week basis? Rashard has had a hot hand for the last several weeks here."
Mendenhall had his best game of his young career against the San Diego Chargers when he had 29 carries for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
"He's been given an opportunity due to the injury of Willie Parker and has taken advantage of it," said Tomlin. "It's great to have Willie Parker back. We've got several capable runners that we're comfortable giving the ball to. Rashard's got the hot hand, so in the short term, we'll continue to proceed in the manner that we've done here in the last several weeks."
Tomlin was pleased with the performance of the three-man rotation he used at defensive end against the Browns, taking the place of injured Aaron Smith.
"They were above the line," said Tomlin. "Travis Kirschke played good football, I like what Nick Eason did for us and the young fellow Evander (Ziggy) Hood continues to be a guy on the rise.
"They're going to be judged on their body of work no question week in and week out, their ability to play at a high level and uphold the standard that is an Aaron Smith type standard is going to be a big time challenge, so the jury will continue to be out on whether they pass that test."
The annual Steelers food drive to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank will be held at the Steelers-Vikings game at Heinz Field this Sunday.
Giant Eagle will match donations on a pound-for-pound basis.
Food Bank volunteers will be stationed at Heinz Field gates to collect non-perishable food items to help the needy in our area.
You can also donate online to the virtual food drive at by visiting Steelers Virtual Food Drive.