But in the past month and a half, Mendenhall has shown he is clearly the Steelers running back of the present and the future, but even Steelers fans may not realize just how good he's been.
In his first five starts, Mendenhall has two of the 20 best rushing games in modern Steelers history (going back to 1960). His 165 yards against the Chargers in his first career start was the 11th best game of the past 50 years -- better than any game Jerome Bettis had as a Steeler. Last week's 155 yards against the Broncos was the 18th best game of the modern era.
Mendenhall's big play ability has proven to be the best surprise. He's tied for third in the league runs of 20 yards or longer despite having only 100 carries. His 5.7 yards per carry average is second best in the league (behind Chris Johnson) and he's had a run of 10+ yards in every one of his five starts.
In case you're wondering, here's the top 20 Steelers rushing games since 1960 (thanks to Pro Football Reference's Play Index). Willie Parker has two of the top three, but this is also a good reminder that Barry Foster at his best was very, very good.
|4||John Henry Johnson*||1964-10-10||CLE||30||200||6.67||3|
|6||John Henry Johnson*||1960-12-11||PHI||19||182||9.58||1|