It has been a wild offseason and training camp for Steelers running backs. Just when you think you might have things figured out, things muddle further.
Starting RB Rashard Mendenhall was a full participant in practice Wednesday -- and he perhaps might be closer to playing Sunday in Denver than previously thought. Meanwhile, the presumptive starter in his place, RB Isaac Redman, could be farther from a sure thing that had been expected.
Both backs practiced Wednesday. Redman had a noticeable limp in the locker room and was noncommittal with reporters about his status for the season opener against the Broncos.
Mendenhall also was evasive when asked about his status for Sunday -- he used one of two phrases, "day to day" or "one day at a time," seven times in answering 10 questions from the media. But he did not even wear any sort of brace or sleeve on his surgically-repaired right knee during practice.
"There's a lot that goes on from a strength wise, cutting wise, game speed, conditioning all the things," Mendenhall said of his ongoing rehab from a Jan. 1 torn ACL. "It's hard to say, but it's when we're all comfortable I'll be able to (play)."
Redman has an ankle sprain that kept him out of the preseason finale. The backup to Mendenhall when all are healthy, Redman was expected to begin the season as the Steelers' featured back until Mendenhall got back to full speed.
Earlier in training camp, Redman was ailed by a hip/groin injury.
"I'm feeling good, just trying to get past these injuries," Redman said. "Other than that, I'm fighting back and working hard. I'm one of the first guys in here every morning, trying to get back to 100 percent... I'm close."
Then there's RB Baron Batch, who was drafted before last season but tore his ACL early in training camp. Batch's knee is fully recovered, but he was limited in practice Wednesday due to a groin injury.
The Steelers also have RBs Jonathan Dwyer and rookie Chris Rainey, as well as FB Will Johnson. If everyone is healthy -- a big if -- that could be quite an imposing group.
"We have a lot of running backs that are able to run the ball, a lot of running backs who are able to catch the ball out of the backfield, and I visualize us having a running back corps... who are going to be known around the league as one of the best groups of running backs," Redman said.