Loss of Mendenhall isn't severe blow

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall has a torn ACL and is out for the playoffs, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported.

This is another injury blow to the Steelers, but it's not a severe one because there's not a major dropoff when it comes to backup Isaac Redman. There have been times this season when Redman has outplayed Mendenhall.

Mendenhall's biggest impact this season came in the red zone. Eight of Mendenhall's nine touchdowns this season came inside the 20-yard line, including five red-zone scores in his past seven games.

But his replacement, Redman, has been nicknamed "Red Zone" for his production inside the 20. The expectation is Redman will pick up where Mendenhall left off in this area.

The biggest concern is whether Redman can carry the load if the weather in the playoffs gets bad and makes throwing the ball difficult. Redman, who fumbled twice on 19 carries Sunday, has had double-digit carries in three games in his two-year NFL career.

Pittsburgh had turned its offensive game plan even more toward the passing game this season, which decreased Mendenhall's carries (15.2) and rushing yards per game (61.9) this season. He also only had three runs of more than 20 yards this year after having 11 of them last season.

With Mendenhall getting injured in the regular-season finale, his availability for the start of the 2012 is in doubt. Mendenhall could begin the season on the physically unable to perform list, which would mean missing at least the first six games of the season.