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NFL REPORT

Steelers' Rashard Mendenhall is out for rest of season

Pittsburgh running suffered a torn knee ligament against Cleveland on Sunday and will have surgery this month.

January 02, 2012|wire reports
  • Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall looks for room to run against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall looks for room to run against… (Mark Duncan / Associated…)

The Pittsburgh Steelers' journey through the playoffs won't include running back Rashard Mendenhall.

A person familiar with the injury told the Associated Press that Mendenhall has a torn ligament in his right knee and is out for the rest of the season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not made an official announcement about Mendenhall's status.

The severity of the injury was first reported by ESPN.com and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Mendenhall injured the knee while being tackled late in the first quarter of 13-9 victory over Cleveland on Sunday. He did not return and Coach Mike Tomlin said after the game the injury was "not good." Mendenhall will have surgery before the end of January.

Second-year back Isaac Redman and rookie John Clay will fill in when the Steelers face Denver in an AFC wild-card game Sunday.

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The Chicago Bears said an MRI exam showed Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher suffered no major structural damage to his left knee in a season-ending win at Minnesota.

The Bears announced on their website that the test confirmed that Urlacher sprained two ligaments on an awkward landing late in Sunday's game but there was no other damage.

Urlacher was injured with 5 minutes 15 seconds to play when teammate Major Wright and Minnesota receiver Percy Harvin landed on him going for an incomplete pass in the end zone. Urlacher's leg bent.

Urlacher was just selected for his eighth Pro Bowl.

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St. Louis Rams cornerback Ron Bartell, who suffered a season-ending neck injury in the opener, plans to play next season. Bartell, the team's top coverage corner, said Monday that doctors told him there's no extra risk in playing again. He fractured two bones in his neck when he absorbed a block by a Philadelphia Eagles lineman in a 31-13 loss by the Rams.

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San Francisco Coach Jim Harbaugh has told 49ers quarterback Alex Smith that the team plans to re-sign him beyond this season.

Smith, the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick out of Utah, received a $4.9-million, one-year contract as a free agent last July after the lockout — when many, including Smith, figured he'd be headed elsewhere after six up-and-down seasons. He has thrived under Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback.

Smith, 27, has thrown for 3,150 yards and 17 touchdowns with only five interceptions for the NFC West champions, who finished the regular season with a 13-3 record and earned the No. 2 playoff seeding in the NFC and a first-round bye this week.

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Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald made the spectacular catches that led to the Cardinals' 23-20 overtime victory over Seattle despite a bruised lung. Running back Beanie Wells said Fitzgerald was coughing up blood on the sideline after a third-quarter hit.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the injury was not serious but shows the toughness of Fitzgerald, who caught nine passes for 149 yards.

Etc.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have received permission from the New York Jets to interview offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for their head coaching vacancy. Jets Coach Rex Ryan has said he expects the embattled Schottenheimer to be back unless he becomes a head coach elsewhere. Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum also wants the offensive coordinator to return, but confirmed that Schottenheimer would speak to the Jaguars. The Jaguars also received permission to interview Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. ... Dave Wannstedt is taking over as the Buffalo Bills' defensive coordinator. ... The NFL has set the order for April's draft for non-playoff teams, with the Indianapolis Colts owning the No. 1 overall pick. Behind Indianapolis is St. Louis, which also finished 2-14 but against a more difficult schedule, earning the Colts' the chance to pick Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, considered the top prospect at the position in many years. Minnesota (3-13) is third, followed by Cleveland and Tampa Bay, each 4-12. The winner of the Super Bowl will select last and the other Super Bowl participant next to last, regardless of their regular-season records. Conference championship game losers will select 29th and 30th. Divisional-round participants not advancing to the conference title games will select 25th through 28th.

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