Running back Rashard Mendenhall is set to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers this week after ACL surgery in January. His return has been much-anticipated as the Steelers ranked the No. 31 rushing offense in the NFL.
"I'm really just waiting on my opportunity," Mendenhall recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I just want to continue to work and, as we as an offense sort of form ourselves and bring the pieces together, I want to bring whatever piece I bring.
"But we struggled as a running game early in the season last year, and that's part of it. We just want to continue to grow and, as long as we get better and not worse, that's what we want to do. But we see it from a different light -- we see how close we are (to breaking out) so we just will keep working."
"Getting (Mendenhall) back is really going to help us," offensive lineman Doug Legursky said. "Not that the other two backs haven't done a good job because they have, but Rashard's explosion, his speed and his experience will really just add to it and make us that much better. He is one of those guys who is able to press the hole and he is also just speed around the edge where nobody is going to catch him.
"That makes him a dangerous piece to our offense, and we're excited about getting him back."
Mendenhall tore his ACL during the 2011 regular-season finale against the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers now will have more talent at the position, but Mendenhall admitted all of his speed and cutting ability has not returned. He also hasn't played in new offensive coordinator Todd Haley's scheme. There will be a transitional period.Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.