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Rashard Mendenhall practices without knee brace

Bringing back memories of the "Daniel LaRusso is gonna fight!" scene from "The Karate Kid," it's becoming more and more possible Rashard Mendenhall will be on the field when the Pittsburgh Steelers open their season Sunday night.

Mendenhall didn't wear a brace on his surgically repaired knee as he went through his second consecutive day of full practice Wednesday, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Bouchette, who has covered the Steelers for 28 years, added that coaches don't typically use players in 11-on-11 team drills if they're unlikely to play in that week's game.

The acceleration of Mendenhall's recovery has been stunning. As Gregg Rosenthal wrote Tuesday, it wasn't long ago that Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was openly talking about the running back spending the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list.

Mendenhall was expected to miss a substantial part of the 2012 season after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament during the Steelers' Week 17 loss to the Cleveland Browns in January. If Mendenhall does go against the Broncos on Sunday, expect Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer to see carries regardless.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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