When he plays and how effective he’ll be are two questions to be answered next fall, but the head spinsters of Steelers Nation went about correcting a public relations mistake yesterday that they made regarding Rashard Mendenhall, and his recovery from a torn ACL suffered during Pittsburgh’s season finale.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert previously said that a player typically needs a full year to recover from an ACL injury, a rule of thumb that especially applies to running backs with the cutting and pounding they’re asked to sustain.

Colbert clarified and/or backtracked from those remarks. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“To clarify, what I said was I never think players coming off an ACL are 100 percent for a full year. It doesn’t mean they can’t play,” Colbert said Sunday before the start of the NFL owners meetings. “At some point, we’ll have Rashard back. I’m confident of that.”

He’s right, but he’s still likely screwed either way as far as Mendenhall is concerned, and the Steelers haven’t done anything to address his absence. Even a healthy Mendenhall was a very ineffective Mendenhall last year, averaging 61.9 rushing yards per game, and finishing with less than 50 yards in a game six times. Isaac Redmon and Jonathan Dwyer are capable fill-ins, but they lack starting experience, and their ability to carry the load for an entire season is uncertain.

The Steelers are crunched by the cap, so there’s been little movement by Colbert so far to address his backfield in free agency, and the gradual offensive shift for the Steelers away from the running game will likely continue in 2012.

And now you want to know the rest of the story…

  • Let’s pause for a moment of early morning, and early week reflection in the hours prior to Tim Tebow’s press conference at noon, the most anticipated presser for a backup quarterback in forever. When we look back on Tebow’s football career–and specifically his four years of dominance with the Florida Gators, and his two years in Denver–has there ever been a player in any sport who’s achieved so much success while still having something as fundamental as his throwing mechanics relentlessly questioned? [Get The Picture]
  • Rex Ryan said the Jets could use their new Wildcat toy up to 20 times per game. [Will Brinson]
  • BREAKING TEBOW LOVE TRIANGLE NEWS: Both Taylor Swift and Dianna Argon have reportedly been invited to Tebow’s charity golf tournament. Everyone knows the best way to end a dispute over a man is to hand both ladies golf clubs. [New York Post]
  • The Jets can call the Tebow trade a “football move” until they turn several shades of blue, and they’re not lying. But that statement is a half truth, because Woody Johnson is in the business of profiting off of football, and investing in Tim Tebow stock is a lucrative and easy decision. [Rich Cimini]
  • Sports writers and bloggers like, umm, me don’t deserve your pity, because we’re actually paid to write about sports. It’s pretty awesome. However, we’d just like you to know that long ago we crossed the Gladwellian tipping point for this Tebow story. We’re aware that the mere mention of his name–even in passing–spikes newspaper sales and website traffic, but once any sports story crosses over into consistent mainstream debate, it slowly erodes our insides and becomes excruciating. [Will Leitch]
  • Sean Payton is in attendance as the owners meetings begin today in Palm Beach, Florida, and he might speak to the owners and coaches at some point. [Peter King's MMQB]
  • An angry open letter from Dolphins fans to team ownership. [Armando Salguero]
  • When Chad Ochocinco finished with just 15 catches, it was assumed he would either be released, or take a steep pay cut, especially after the Patriots added Brandon Lloyd and Donte Stallworth. The latter happened over the weekend, and Ocho will have a base salary of $1 million next year, instead of $3 million. [Boston Globe]
  • Also filed under important stuff you may have missed over the weekend: Curtis Lofton signed a five-year deal with the Saints, giving New Orleans a replacement for Jonathan Vilma either temporarily if he faces a lengthy BountyGate suspension, or permanently if he’s cut due to his age and large contract. [Pat Yasinskas]
  • Anthony Hargrove might be a Packer soon. Or maybe not. [National Football Post]