Monday, September 29, 2008
Updated: September 30, 1:05 PM ET
Rookie Mendenhall fractures shoulder; Simmons tears right Achilles
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers lost starting right guard Kendall Simmons and first-round draft pick Rashard Mendenhall to season-ending injuries during their 23-20 overtime victory over Baltimore on Monday night.
The Steelers (3-1) now face a short week before playing Sunday night at Jacksonville (2-2), a game in which fourth-string running back Mewelde Moore may have to start if Pro Bowl runner Willie Parker misses a second successive game with a sprained knee.
Simmons (torn right Achilles) and Mendenhall (fractured left shoulder) will be placed on injured reserve, coach Mike Tomlin said, and thus cannot return this season. A torn Achilles can be an especially difficult injury for a lineman to overcome because he pushes off his heel on every play.
"Our competitors, it has been well documented, a lot of those guys have suffered devastating injuries," Tomlin said. "It is only devastating if you allow it to be. People are not concerned with our problems, they are probably happy that we have them. We will address them and get ready to play."
Simmons was replaced by former undrafted free agent Darnell Stapleton on Monday, though it would seem likely that fourth-year lineman Trai Essex, who was not in uniform against Baltimore, would start Sunday.
The Steelers also lost running back Carey Davis (ankle) and backup linebacker Andre Frazier, who was carted off the field on a stretcher with a spine injury after the opening kickoff. Frazier initially appeared to be the most seriously injured, but he was walking freely and joking with teammates after the game. Tomlin said his tests proved negative.
Mendenhall's loss is a big one for Pittsburgh, and it came in his first NFL career start on a hard hit by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. He was drafted to give the Steelers a power back to go with Parker's speed, but Mendenhall's first season ended after only 19 carries. He had nine carries for 30 yards against Baltimore.
"We have some injuries that we need to deal with, that is part of football and we will [deal with it]," Tomlin said. "Our standard of expectation will not change. We have to go to Jacksonville on a short week, such is life in the National Football League."