Mendenhall, who has been the Steelers leading rusher for the past three seasons, suspension comes after his absence from Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers when he was told by the team that he would not dress, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette.
The Steelers went on to lose the game 34-24 to the Chargers, but Mendenhall will take a bigger loss. The suspension will cost him $41,176 of his $700,000 salary.
Mendenhall is in the final season of his rookie contract and has only played in four games this season. He missed the first three games of the season recovering from an ACL injury that he suffered towards the end of the 2011 season.
The 2008 first-round pick has been inactive for the past two games after fumbling twice with four carries against the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers went on to lose the game 20-14.
In Mendenhall’s return before the Cleveland game he looked powerful against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5. He rushed for 68 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown reception. The following week he looked sluggish against the Tennessee Titans with a total of six yards on six carries. He was sidelined for the next two months after that game with an Achilles injury.
Following the benching of Mendenhall after the Cleveland loss, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made the announcement that former sixth-round pick Jonathan Dwyer would be the starting running back.
Baron Batch, a 2011 seventh-round draft pick, has been chosen to fill Mendenhall’s roster spot and play behind Dwyer. Batch was previously on the practice squad.
Coming into the season there was some early discussion about Mendenhall being re-signed by the Steelers, but it appears that both parties may be headed their separate ways.
The Steelers (7-6) will head to Dallas this weekend to play the Cowboys with the hopes of keeping their playoff berth alive.