Mendenhall, Sweed on shaky ground

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

PITTSBURGH -- According to Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, there is no such thing as a doghouse.

But second-year players Rashard Mendenhall and Limas Sweed would certainly be in it if there was.


The prized acquisitions of the 2008 draft class have not had a good week for the Steelers (1-2). Mendenhall, a former first-rounder, had such a poor week of practice that Tomlin opted not to play the tailback on offense in Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Sweed, the team’s second-rounder a year ago, did play but dropped a costly touchdown pass.

But Tomlin says it’s a new week and the slate is clean.

"I don’t have a doghouse; a doghouse is something that you have when you let things stew and you don’t take action," Tomlin said during his Tuesday news conference. "I tend to take action and I’m done with it."

Tomlin is very much a "feel" and "trust" type of coach. He explained that Mendenhall lacked the necessary details last week for the coaching staff to be comfortable enough playing the second-year tailback.

"If Hines Ward misses an assignment on a Thursday, you kind of [nod] and move on," Tomlin said. "Young guys have to earn their opportunities."

Despite a solid offseason, Sweed continues to struggle with drops once the lights are on. The production of rookie receiver Mike Wallace has taken away some of Sweed’s opportunities and it could get worse.

Tomlin said there's "absolutely" a chance the team could look to veteran backup receiver Shaun McDonald more Sunday against the San Diego Chargers until Sweed earns the team’s trust again and proves he can finish plays.

"He’s, quite frankly, not catching the football deep down the field, and he’s got some tape that shows that," Tomlin said. "He’s got to shake that off. If and when he’s given the next opportunity to make a similar play, he better make it."

In other Steelers notes, tailback Willie Parker has turf toe and could miss some practice time this week. Rookie fullback Frank Summers is having his back evaluated, and the team may search to add another player.

The team recently released veteran fullback Carey Davis, so he could be on the team's short list this week if Summers can't play.

(Update: The Steelers have officially re-signed Davis on Tuesday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)