The Steelers suspended halfback Rashard Mendenhall for one week, including the Sunday game in Dallas for what the team explained was "conduct detrimental to the team."
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has learned that Mendenhall did not show up for the game Sunday at Heinz Field against the San Diego Chargers after his coaches told him he would not be active for it. Even though the inactive players cannot play, they usually join the Steelers on the sideline unless injuries prevent them, although not in uniform.
Mendenhall, the Steelers' No. 1 draft choice in 2008 and their feature back the past three seasons, has had a difficult year, mostly because of injuries. He lost his starting job two weeks ago and has not dressed the past two games after being demoted to third string.
Mike McCartney, Mendenhall's agent, said the player will serve his suspension, then return to them next Monday in good spirits.
"What's happened, happened," McCartney told the Post-Gazette. "When I spoke to Rashard, I know he is very excited next Monday to rejoin his teammates. He's going to come back with great energy to do everything he can to help the Pittsburgh Steelers win football games."
The Steelers signed halfback Baron Batch from the practice squad to replace Mendenhall on the 53-man roster. The suspension will cost Mendenhall $41,176.47, one week's (1/17th) worth of his $700,000 salary.
For the season, he has run 34 times for 113 yards and no touchdowns and caught seven passes for 61 yards and one touchdown.
Mendenhall missed most of his rookie season when, in the fourth game, Baltimore's Ray Lewis hit him and fractured his shoulder. He went on to lead the Steelers in rushing with1,108 in 2008. He rushed for 1,273 yards in 2009. He had 928 yards rushing last season when his ACL was torn in the final regular-season game at Cleveland.
He missed the first three games this season while recovering from the knee injury and started the fourth against Philadelphia. He rushed for 68 yards on 13 carries and gained another 33 on three receptions, including one for a 13-yard touchdown.
He injured his Achilles the next game and missed the next four, then returned Nov. 18 to start against Baltimore. He started Nov. 25 against Cleveland, but fumbled twice on four carries, lost two of them and has not dressed for a game since.