By Matt Pawlikowski
More than likely, come Sunday, the names Ryan Mundy and Chris Carter will once again get the call instead of the ones Steeler nation have been used to over the years: James Harrison and Troy Polamalu.
But the Raiders, who have given up 298 yards to opposing teams in the run game this year, might get a big dose of another familiar name. Rashard Mendenhall might see the field for the first time since his game against Cleveland last year.
“ I’m preparing to get back it feels good,” Mendenhall said on Wednesday following the Steelers first full pad practice of the week.
Asked about Harrison and Polamalu, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said during his weekly presser that he is proceeding with caution with the two Pro Bowl players.
“I’ll handle all of those situations really on a case-by-case basis,” Tomlin said, ”with the understanding that the younger you are, the more inexperienced you are, the more practices are necessary before I consider utilizing you.”
Which means Mundy, who has played well in relief of Polamaly and Ryan Clark when he was out in Denver will get a change to show what he is made of again.
Other Steelers who did not hit the practice field on Wednesday were Emmanual Sanders (knee) and Mike Wallace (groin) along with tight end Heath Miller (abdomen). Offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert also was out with a groin injury.
The biggest news for the Steelers though is the fact Mendenhall, finally looks as if he is ready to play. On Wednesday he took some dings from the defense and looked good.
Mendenhall looks as if he will finally see some playing time, which, for a run game that currently ranks 30th in the NFL, is a good thing. It also could provide a huge boost for the Steelers against a Raiders team that gave up 172 yards to Reggie Bush last weekend.
On Tuesday during his weekly presser, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said the veteran back who has averaged 4.4 yards per carry for his career would see more of the grass during the week of practice leading up to the game.
“He has done a nice job of running and cutting at full speed. Now, let’s see if he can play a little football. We will thud him up a little bit on a day we are allowed to carry our pads and see if he can respond positively to it.”
He did just that on Wednesday, which is good news because Jonathan Dwyer was out with turf toe.
Stevenson Sylvester, who has been out with an injury since the pre season, finally practiced on Wednesday but was limited as was tackle Mike Adams.
As for the Raiders, who last week were downed by the Dolphins 35-13, Raiders coach Dennis Allen said that tackle Khalif Barnes and Shawntae Spencer are still questionable.
“He’s got a groin, and he didn’t practice today. He, like Shawntae Spencer, we are going to evaluate where we’re at at the end of the week, and we’ll make a decision at the end of the week.”
Also questionable for Sunday’s contest according to Allen is linebacker Rolando McClain who is undergoing tests for a concussion.
“He’ll go through some of the process tomorrow, and we’ll see where he’s at tomorrow. He’s kind of a day-to-day deal on that.” he said.
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Matt Pawlikowski is a veteran journalist covering all things Steelers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.