The Pittsburgh Steelers returned to practice Wednesday in preparation for their Sunday match-up against the Philadelphia Eagles. In fact, for the first time in 2012, the entire active contingent of players took part in team activities.James Harrison, safety Troy Polamalu and running back Rashard Mendenhall could not come at a better time for the Steelers who are taking on an opponent that has presented problems for the team during previous heated games in the semi in-state rivalry.
For whatever reason, on offense the Steelers have not had the arsenal to compete against the attacking wide-nine schemes that the Eagles utilize. Not only could Mendenhall’s entry into the backfield help decipher a solution, but Todd Haley’s new short passing game should help take the pressure off the offensive line, which has been at the center of the struggles the team has faced against Philadelphia and will also have tackle Marcus Gilbert battling a groin injury.
During the preseason when these teams met, rookie running back Chris Rainey put on a bit of a show, something that has been absent from the offense to this point in season. Rainey has the dynamic ability out of the backfield to neutralize the up-field rush, and should be at the forefront of the game plan in the backfield, along with Mendenhall if he is available.
The Steelers could also use a balanced attack on offense to help their struggling defense in this battle with a potential explosive Eagles offense. The return of Harrison and Polamalu will give the defense an emotional boost. However, there is no guarantee the effectiveness of either player, especially Harrison, after their layoff and the defense must be able to adjust on the fly if need be.
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