The decision to remove Mendenhall, who had surgery to repair a torn ACL in January, came as a surprise because as recently as last week, GM Kevin Colbert said he thought he would open the season on the PUP. Obviously, things changed. "The trainers felt that he had progressed as far as he could in doing what they were doing," Colbert said, "and the kid felt confident that he was ready to take the next step. Now, the next step is being able to practice, and where that leads to nobody knows at this point. ..." Reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Anyone on the Reserve/PUP list to start the regular season cannot practice or play for the first six weeks of the season. After that, the team has three weeks to decide if it wants to put him on the 53-man roster or put him on injured reserve the rest of the season. Players on PUP can work out, but Mendenhall and the Steelers felt it was time for him to take the next step rather than wait for him to take it six weeks into the regular season. It is unlikely he will be ready to play in September, but, by doing this, he could be ready to play much sooner than if he had to open on PUP. "If you go on PUP, you're out for six weeks, minimum," Colbert explained. "Now whether he plays in those first six weeks we don't know, but, obviously, we feel there's a chance that could happen. Be it Week 5 or Week 6, that could be a difference." Colbert said he, too, was surprised by Mendenhall's progress. "We will know more once he starts this," Colbert said. "Practicing and doing football work with his teammates, he'll have a better idea where he is, and we'll have a better idea where he is. ..." We'll see too. Meanwhile, Mendenhall's expected replacement as starting halfback, Isaac Redman, will not play Sunday because of a groin injury. John Clay was lost for the season with a leg injury as was starting fullback David Johnson to a torn ACL and MCL.