The Call to Mendenhall: Roethlisberger Suspension Initiates New Gameplan

Chris MillerCorrespondent IApril 21, 2010

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 20: Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers during the game on December 20, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

With the announcement of Ben Roethlisberger's suspension on Wednesday, Rashard Mendenhall and the Pittsburgh Steelers' running backs surely better rest their legs as much as possible.

It is going to be a busy year.

The organization recently stated their intentions on bringing back their bread-and-butter running offense, and with the decision from the league to suspend Roethlisberger for six games next season, it all but confirms the Steelers will recommit to the running game in 2010.

For Mendenhall, it is time to show everyone what he is made of.

After Ray Lewis delivered a season-ending injury during his rookie campaign, Mendenhall performed quite well in his second season, rushing for nearly 1,108 yards and posting a quality 4.6 yards per carry.

Not bad for a guy playing in a pass-happy offense.

The third-year pro from Illinois rushed more than 20 times in a game only four times in 2009.

In 2010 however, a completely altered gameplan will be on the agenda, and it can be safe to assume Mendenhall's carries will significantly increase.

With the Steelers reacquiring backup quarterback Byron Leftwich, the Steelers now have three men who will battle for the starting job, with Leftwich joining longtime backup Charlie Batch and third-year man Dennis Dixon for the role.

Does anyone expect any of the quarterbacks mentioned to carry the load Roethlisberger has developed over the course of his career?

In doing so, the Steelers would put themselves in a vulnerable position game after game.

Instead, the Steelers might copy the blueprint for success similar to what was executed during Roethlisberger's rookie season in 2004, mixing in quality and timely passing patterns with a heavy rushing attack.

But are the Steelers ready for it?

Is the offensive line capable and skilled enough? Is Mendenhall ready for the workload?

Above all else, is Bruce Arians a compatible match to lead this type of offense?

Only time will tell, but in the meantime, brace yourself for shades of years past...the Steelers will be running the ball in 2010.