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Art Rooney expected more from Rashard Mendenhall

The Steelers running back will be unrestricted when the free agency period begins and he didn't exactly give the organization incentive to keep him around. He missed the first four weeks as he recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, then was unproductive when healthy. So unproductive that he lost his job to Jonathan Dwyer.

Things bottomed out when Mendenhall was suspended for skipping the Week 14 game against the San Diego Chargers after he was told not to dress.

Mendenhall finished 2012 with 182 yards on 51 carries and no touchdowns.

"The season Rashard was not what we would have hope for," Steelers president Art Rooney II told Steelers Digest writer Bob Labriola. "Obviously, we knew he was coming back from an injury so there were some unknowns there. So, without getting into the real specifics with Rashard, it's fair to say that we are going to need a better performance out of the running back position if we're going to be successful.

"Whether it's Rashard or Jonathan or Isaac (Redman) or somebody else, we have to be better at that position, as well as others, but certainly at that position. In this offseason that's something we've got to look at and decide how we get better and who we get better with."

That's not a ringing endorsement for Mendenhall's return. There weren't many expectations for Dwyer and Redman, but Mendenhall was a first-round pick with an 1,100-yard and 1,200-yard season on the resume.

The organization doesn't take missing the playoffs lightly and the run game ranked 26th in the NFL. There will be changes and Mendenhall looks to be one of them.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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