Rashard Mendenhall returned to practice Wednesday but didn't explain why he skipped the Dec. 9 game. (US Presswire)

RB Rashard Mendenhall maintains that his season has "not at all" been a nightmare for him.

When it comes to the season's lowest point, Mendenhall isn't commenting.

Immediately after going through his first practice since returning from a one-week suspension for failing to show up for the Steelers' Dec. 9 loss to the San Diego Chargers, Mendenhall would only say, "I'm not going into that," during comments to the media that otherwise bordered on the playful and lighthearted.

"Yep!" the former first-round pick and 1,200-yard rusher said when asked if he was happy to be back at practice.

"What happened? What happened? Who got suspended? What?" he said while laughing to a follow-up inquiry.

Turning more serious, Mendenhall said his teammates have stood behind him: "I talk to these guys every day. These are my teammates. This is my family, and I talk to them all the time. So, they were very supportive."

Mendenhall added that he's "felt great this whole time" and that the Achilles he injured earlier this season continues to feel better every week. He said, "I don't know what's going to happen" in regards to whether he is activated for Sunday's game against Cincinnati or, if so, what role he will take on.

It's been a 2012 for Mendenhall that began with him tearing an ACL on Jan. 1 in Cleveland and that appears to be ending with him not even among the five running backs the Steelers choose to dress for games.

In between was months of laborious rehabilitation, the Achilles injury five days into his return to game action and a benching after fumbling twice in Cleveland on Nov. 25. Less than three months from unrestricted free agency, Mendenhall well might end his "walk" season with 113 rushing yards on 34 carries.

Still, Mendenhall took issue with the characterization that his season has been a "nightmare."

"No, not at all," he said. "I can see why it appears to be that way, but no. Not at all. Nothing has changed this year for me with the way that I've worked, the way that I've prepared and the way that I've grown. It's been that same thing. Outside circumstances have been different, but for me nothing has changed at all."

Another word Mendenhall didn't want associated with him was "frustration." Coach Mike Tomlin, in announcing why Mendenhall was suspended, said of Mendenhall, "Obviously, there is frustration with his situation, understandably."

"I wouldn't use that word," Mendenhall said. "There's a lot of thought that goes into anything that I do."

Whatever thought went into his decision not to join his teammates on the Heinz Field sideline last week, Mendenhall isn't sharing.

Injury report: Wednesday's practice brought largely good news for the Steelers. CB Cortez Allen was a full participant three days after missing Sunday's loss in Dallas because of hip/groin injury. CB Keenan Lewis maintained, "I'm playing (Sunday), no matter what" and was a limited practice participant after aggravating his hip injury Sunday.

WR Emmanuel Sanders likewise was limited with his cracked ribs, as was RT Mike Adams after missing the past three games with an ankle injury.

Ike Taylor (ankle) has already been ruled out, and DE Cameron Heyward and S Troy Polamalu missed practice for noninjury reasons. DE Al Woods did not practice because of illness.

Follow Steelers reporter Chris Adamski on Twitter @CBSSteelers and @BuzzsawPGH.