No doghouse for Mendenhall


By Teresa Varley

Running back Rashard Mendenhall didn't play any offensive snaps against the Bengals, something Coach Mike Tomlin explained was a result of him not being on "the details" in the week leading up to the game. 

But this is a new week and don't look for Tomlin to hold it against the second-year running back, who will have the opportunity to get back on the field this week against the Chargers if he pays attention to those details.

"He is not in the doghouse. I don't have a doghouse," said Tomlin. "A dog house is something you have when you let things stew and you don't take action. I tend to take action and I am done with it. He lacked a little detail in his preparation last week so I choose not to play him offensively. I was quite frank in dealing with him."

Tomlin knows that players are going to miss assignments in practice, but said younger guys need to prove themselves on a consistent basis to earn playing time.

"It's a little different when a veteran football player potentially makes mistakes in preparation for a game," said Tomlin. "If Hines Ward misses an assignment on a Thursday, you move on. Young guys have to earn their opportunity. They have to make coaches comfortable with their ability to execute the details of their assignment. They need to make other guys in the huddle comfortable with their ability to execute the details of their assignments. He didn't do that to my satisfaction last week so he didn't get the chance to play offense. I took action. I am not carrying any baggage into this week. 

"If he plays above the line in preparation for the game he will be given an opportunity to play for us."

One player who will be on the sidelines again this week is safety Troy Polamalu. Polamalu was mentioned in the injury update for the first time since suffering an MCL injury, but Tomlin said that wasn't because he is ready to get back in action.

"I like Troy's progress," said Tomlin. "I am hearing good reports in that regard. We'll just continue to move forward with him."

Also on the injury report are tight end Matt Spaeth (hip pointer) and center Justin Hartwig (ankle) who both could be limited in practice early in the week, but should be okay by game time. Running back Willie Parker suffered turf toe against the Bengals, something that could limit him early in the week as well.

The team could have an issue at fullback this week as both Frank Summers and tight end David Johnson are on the injury report.

Johnson suffered a high ankle sprain against the Bengals, forcing him out of the game early.

"It could be a number of weeks. It could not," said Tomlin. "We'll get a better sense of where he is as we push through the week. He is questionable to say the least this week."

Summers, who was inactive against the Bengals as Tomlin used his spot to dress special teamer Arnold Harrison and giving Johnson the blocking duties, is having back issues and his availability is not known.

"He is at the doctors as we speak getting his back looked at," said Tomlin. "It's somewhat of a mystery. We'll have more information regarding that hopefully a little later today."

If Summers or Johnson can't go, the team might look to add a fullback.

"We'll potentially explore acquiring a body that can help us," said Tomlin. "I am going to wait and see what the results are before I rush to judgment regarding that situation."

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