NFL.com Staff | Tags: Three and out, Chris Ivory, Darren Sproles, Isaac Redman, Jake Ballard, Mario Manningham, Mark Ingram, Matt Flynn, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, rashard mendenhall
Mendenhall likely out: The Steelers expect to be without RB Rashard Mendenhall for their Wild Card game against the Broncos after he suffered a knee injury in Week 17. Isaac Redman had a nice game in his place, rushing for 92 yards and a TD. That was against the NFL’s 30th-ranked rushing defense, but the good news is that Denver hasn’t been much better against the run. Despite improvement during the second half of the season, the Broncos still gave up 126.3 rushing yards per game — good for 22nd best in the league. Redman may not be the first RB that comes to mind if you’re selecting a Playoff Challenge squad, but with the Steelers being a favorite over the slumping Broncos, the chances of the second-year back having an encore in the divisional round is likely.
Ingram likely done for season: Saints RB Mark Ingram (toe) wasn’t a factor for the final month of the season, and is now expected to have season-ending surgery this week. New Orleans has boasted a deep stable of running backs all season, proven by Chris Ivory’s 127-yard, one-touchdown performance Sunday against Carolina. The problem for Playoff Challenge owners is that you never know who will have the big day. Darren Sproles is about as close to a sure thing as you’ll find in the New Orleans backfield. After watching this week’s opponent, Detroit, give up 45 points to Matt Flynn and the Green Bay Packers, the red-hot Saints have reason to be optimistic.
Manningham, Ballard feeling OK: You may not have known it by watching Sunday night, but the Giants are banged up. Mario Manningham played with a balky knee while TE Jake Ballard sat out altogether. But QB Eli Manning could have more of his weapons at hand for Sunday’s game against the Falcons. Manningham saying his knee feels “fine” and Ballard suggested he could be back in action this weekend. Atlanta was a middle of the road defense against the pass during the regular season, which could have a bigger impact on Manningham, who has been relegated to the No. 3 WR role. Ballard, however, was becoming a bigger part of the offense before his injury and could slide back into a very productive slot.
– Marcas Grant