Action for Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall is starting to pick up.
Mendenhall will have a private workout for the Carolina Panthers today. Carolina owns the 13th pick in the first round, one slot ahead of the Bears. The Panthers having been doing their homework on backs this week. Led by general manager Marty Hurney, Carolina met with Arkansas running back Felix Jones following the Razorbacks pro day on Tuesday in Fayetteville, Ark.
The Panthers are the first of a few teams who will either have a workout with Mendenhall or have him in for a visit. The New York Jets (sixth pick), Cincinnati Bengals (ninth pick) and Dallas Cowboys (22nd and 28th picks) have meetings scheduled. The Detroit Lions, who pick 15th, are also believed to be interested.
The Niles West product ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds at the combine to improve his stock after a big-time performance in the Rose Bowl loss to USC. He also did 26 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press, third-most among running backs in Indianapolis.
Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner would certainly love to have Mendenhall, who has a good chance of being the second back chosen after Arkansas’ Darren McFadden. Because of Turner’s relationship, the Bears know all about Mendenhall so they would not necessarily have to meet with him further to feel good about drafting him.