Mendenhall has reason to dance

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers are hosting their mandatory minicamp this weekend, and without star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (suspension), a lot of attention will be focused this offseason on feature tailback Rashard Mendenhall.

The former first-round pick burst on the scene last year by recording 1,108 yards in just 12 starts with the Steelers. Expectations are even higher for the talented Mendenhall this year, especially since the offense likely will focus on the run without Roethlisberger under center to start the season.

"I don't put too much pressure on myself," Mendenhall said. "I just come in and try and work and better myself day. So come time for the season, I'll be ready for anything."

Mendenhall had an interesting offseason routine that he hopes will help him carry the load. Similar to Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco, Mendenhall took dance classes.

Initially, Mendenhall tried dancing after fracturing his shoulder during his rookie season.

"I just wanted something to do to keep moving around that was kind of fun. So I started taking a dance class, and I've been doing it ever since," Mendenhall said. "I feel like it's good exercise, and it strengthens parts of your body that you normally don't work on. Plus, it's more fun than anything."

As the Steelers begin to tweak their offense for the first four or six games of the season, expect Mendenhall to be heavily in the fold. He's only 22 and doesn't have much wear and tear.

Pittsburgh also is looking to get back to the smash-mouth brand that's gotten away from the franchise the past few years. The Steelers drafted talented center/guard Maurkice Pouncey in the first round to help them succeed in the area.

But Pittsburgh's quarterback position remains unsettled. Veteran Byron Leftwich is getting first-team reps in minicamp and is expected to compete with Dennis Dixon in training camp. Charlie Batch also is in the mix.

"As time goes on and we go into camp, we'll start to shape what we do as an offense," Mendenhall said. "But me and the team, we have a lot of confidence in Byron, Dennis, Charlie, whoever steps in there."