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83-Steelers-43
04-22-2007, 10:34 AM
Brown: Steelers' Parker embraces multiback rushing attack

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Steelers hired former Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson to coach the position at which he once excelled. Willie Parker, their freshly minted Pro Bowl running back, further blurred the lines between fierce rivals when he befriended current Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer at the NFL's annual all-star game in Hawaii.

"I always looked at them as our rival and our enemy," Parker said of the Bengals, "but to sit down and have a conversation with him and hang out with him, I thought that was cool."

Parker is cool with something else that will be much more reassuring to Steelers fans: coach Mike Tomlin's intent to use more than one back to run the ball next season.

Parker could be upset by such a change, considering he rushed for 1,494 yards last season and scored 13 touchdowns.

But fitting for someone who plays a position that demands good vision, Parker sees the league-wide trend of teams using multiple backs to power their running game -- as well as the benefit of lightening the load for someone whose preferred playing weight is right around 210 pounds.

"You can't really turn selfish," Parker said of the probability of his getting fewer than the 337 carries he had in 2006. "I've been with two backs basically my whole career except last year, really. We wanted two backs, but we never really got in that situation where they put a lot of confidence in the other back."

Duce Staley never filled Jerome Bettis' role as the short-yardage complement to Parker, and Najeh Davenport didn't sign with the Steelers until September and spent much of the season getting acclimated with the offense.

As a result, Parker got 72 percent of the Steelers' carries and almost 50 more than he had in his first two NFL seasons combined.

He made the most of them, running up a rushing total that was exceeded only by LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson in the AFC.

Parker joined the two backs at the Pro Bowl and got to know Tomlinson. He also took the opportunity to ask the reigning NFL MVP about playing the position at which Tomlinson is widely regarded the best in the league.

"That's the only way you're going to get good: See what other guys are thinking when they're on the field," Parker said Saturday between the first of two minicamp practices at the Steelers' South Side facility.

Parker outraced good awhile ago. Still, he hasn't entirely left behind the player that rushed for fewer than 200 yards as a senior at the University of North Carolina and had to break into the NFL as an undrafted free agent.

Such humble beginnings still motivate him, while the specter of competition also will have Parker working with his personal trainer after minicamp, which concludes today.

Tomlin said Davenport, who played for the Packers before the Steelers picked him up, could be that second back he is looking for to complement Parker.

"He was part of a rotation in Green Bay when I first broke into the league down in Tampa. He was a guy we were always concerned about when Ahman Green wasn't in there," Tomlin said.

Davenport re-signed with the team and should be much more comfortable in the offense next season. Parker said he also expects the Steelers to pick a running back in next week's NFL draft.

If he welcomes the competition that is because no one pushes Parker harder than he does.

"You've got one chance," Parker said, "and I'm going to make the best of it."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_504000.html

19ward86
04-22-2007, 11:45 AM
i think that davenport will never be anything but a kickoff returner. he isnt a good back, no speed, overweight, 2 out of the 3 things i said makes him sound like a bettis mini, but bettis had amazing footwork and great vision. two things that najeh doesnt have. i think that chris henry could be drafted in the third round by us and i think he would start in front of najeh. chris henry in my mind is like larry johnson in my mind, he is a big back with good speed for his size.

DJfan
04-22-2007, 01:07 PM
One more reason we need to thank God that we have Parker. What a team player!

The Duke
04-22-2007, 01:19 PM
i think that davenport will never be anything but a kickoff returner. he isnt a good back, no speed, overweight, 2 out of the 3 things i said makes him sound like a bettis mini, but bettis had amazing footwork and great vision. two things that najeh doesnt have. i think that chris henry could be drafted in the third round by us and i think he would start in front of najeh. chris henry in my mind is like larry johnson in my mind, he is a big back with good speed for his size.

Najeh was still adjusting to the system, we'll see how he does in preseason.

Edman
04-22-2007, 01:49 PM
Willie Parker is a diamond in the rough and I'm so glad we found him. We was definately the brightest spot last year.

Najeh is a bit iffy for a number 2 back. I prefer him as a kick returner. I think the Steelers should go after Tony Hunt or Mike Bush for a sutable number 2 in the draft.

Fire Haley
04-22-2007, 03:33 PM
We better get another RB in the draft.... Willie has been healthy (knock on wood), but we can't afford for a sprained ankle or knee to end our season. We got nothing behind him, seriously.

SteelCzar76
04-22-2007, 04:03 PM
I'm still holding out hope that we pick up Bush at some point during the draft. IMO he's not only the ONLY back outside of Peterson and Lynch that will be an immediate impact player. But a near perfect power compliment to Willie.
If it wasn't for his Injury he would have easily graded out as a top 15-20 pick. (possibly higher) And regarding that injury,....he seems to be on track to return to his previous form sooner than many would have expected. (judging from recent reports)

Elvis
04-22-2007, 04:06 PM
We better get another RB in the draft.... Willie has been healthy (knock on wood), but we can't afford for a sprained ankle or knee to end our season. We got nothing behind him, seriously.
This has been my thoughts all along.. I couldnt agree more
Najeh is nothing more than a waste of roster space to me.. The Steelers need to get someone in the mid rounds of this upcoming draft to just take about 100 carries off of Willie's legs. We dont have to have 2 1,000 yard rushers, just someone to take about 25% of the load away from Willie.:tt02: :tt02: :tt02:

Livinginthe past
04-22-2007, 04:50 PM
Now thats how you conduct yourself in an interview.

Lets be honest here - a players worth is mainly based uupon his production - for a RB thats yards and TD's - the best way to get more of those (short of burning out) is to touch the ball as often as possible.

I am sure Willie Parker would like to be the focal point of the offense - sharing the carries and being spelled are two different things, but you don;t see him being 'honest' like Ben who it seems has to spill his guts without fail whenever the opportunity arrives.

Good work WP.

fansince'76
04-22-2007, 05:05 PM
Najeh is nothing more than a waste of roster space to me.. The Steelers need to get someone in the mid rounds of this upcoming draft to just take about 100 carries off of Willie's legs. We dont have to have 2 1,000 yard rushers, just someone to take about 25% of the load away from Willie.:tt02: :tt02: :tt02:

No, Duce Staley was a waste of a roster spot. Davenport actually produced when given the chance last year - only problem is he wasn't given much of a chance whatsoever.

Atlanta Dan
04-22-2007, 06:22 PM
No, Duce Staley was a waste of a roster spot. Davenport actually produced when given the chance last year - only problem is he wasn't given much of a chance whatsoever.

My concern with Najeh was that in the 4th quarter of a home game last year in which the o-line was just destroying the other team and parker ran for +200 (Saints or Browns) they brought in Najeh for an attempt to recreate Bettis time in short yardage situations and he could not get it done.

It may be that he had not yet learned the system but I am not sold on Davenport as the relief pitcher for Parker. But with LB and OL concerns (and apparently CB concerns if rumors on Revis are true) I do not see an early pick for a RB unless Faneca is traded and the Steelers fall into some more picks next weekend (for a RB that nobody will be around to block for?)

In the first of a week long draft preview series of articles Ed.B. of the P-G says they should draft a RB "somewhere."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07112/780052-66.stm

fansince'76
04-22-2007, 06:55 PM
My concern with Najeh was that in the 4th quarter of a home game last year in which the o-line was just destroying the other team and parker ran for +200 (Saints or Browns) they brought in Najeh for an attempt to recreate Bettis time in short yardage situations and he could not get it done.

It may be that he had not yet learned the system but I am not sold on Davenport as the relief pitcher for Parker. But with LB and OL concerns (and apparently CB concerns if rumors on Revis are true) I do not see an early pick for a RB unless Faneca is traded and the Steelers fall into some more picks next weekend (for a RB that nobody will be around to block for?)

In the first of a week long draft preview series of articles Ed.B. of the P-G says they should draft a RB "somewhere."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07112/780052-66.stm

Point taken, Dan - I also agree that we should not go for a RB in the early rounds with the other holes (OL, LB primarily) that we have to fill. If the FO feels a diamond in the rough at RB can be had in the 4th or later, then go for it.

Stlrs4Life
04-22-2007, 08:54 PM
Nice to see Willie isn't a selfish player.

GBMelBlount
04-22-2007, 09:17 PM
My concern with Najeh was that in the 4th quarter of a home game last year in which the o-line was just destroying the other team and parker ran for +200 (Saints or Browns) they brought in Najeh for an attempt to recreate Bettis time in short yardage situations and he could not get it done.

It may be that he had not yet learned the system but I am not sold on Davenport as the relief pitcher for Parker. But with LB and OL concerns (and apparently CB concerns if rumors on Revis are true) I do not see an early pick for a RB unless Faneca is traded and the Steelers fall into some more picks next weekend (for a RB that nobody will be around to block for?)

In the first of a week long draft preview series of articles Ed.B. of the P-G says they should draft a RB "somewhere."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07112/780052-66.stm

Maybe #2 didn't fling the "poo" last year. Hopefully that doesn't "hamper" the FO opinion. However, they say Tomlin looks at best available too so if we find a steal RB earlier, who knows?

Spidey
04-23-2007, 08:36 AM
I know we have far more pressing concerns than RB, however at 15 our two biggest OL and OLB, there isn't anyone worthy, so why not get Marshawn Lynch at 15!

The only cog in the works would be if Jamaal Anderson's available, as we're crying out for someone who can rush the passer!

SteelerFanInCA
04-23-2007, 11:51 AM
Gotta love Willie's "team player" attitude he exhibits during the interview.

As for Davenport being the back to compliment Willie, well I'm going to keep an open mind on that for now. I know last year Davenport did not get a full season\camp under his belt. This season he is here from day one and that's enough for me to give him a chance.

fansince'76
04-23-2007, 12:08 PM
OL is a hole? We've got like 4 guys on the bench who could potentially take over for the starters if they had to. Are we supposed to be going three deep at every position now?

You're right, no concern with an OL that almost got Ben killed last season, and one which will be changed drastically come opening day. I wish I had as much faith in those guys riding the bench.

Preacher
04-23-2007, 07:08 PM
You're right, no concern with an OL that almost got Ben killed last season, and one which will be changed drastically come opening day. I wish I had as much faith in those guys riding the bench.

When Kemo and Colon were in... they provided more protection then the starters. The problem??? They weren't in very much.. very long.. or enough to get a feel for system and the other players.

So I am not worried about the O line AS much... I do want someone to replace Faneca. But that is about it. I am more worried obout our CB/LB 2nd string RB, and a tad (not a lot, but a tad) more worried about depth at WR.


However... Steelers fans all..........

Isn't nice that we can go into a season with the depth at QB.. and not have to worry? If Ben doesn't come back... we still have a very good QB to depend on... one that I would take over half the starting qb's in the league.

This just seems strange!!!

coachspeak33
04-24-2007, 09:46 AM
OL is a hole? We've got like 4 guys on the bench who could potentially take over for the starters if they had to. Are we supposed to be going three deep at every position now?

great point steelreserve....I know the game is won upfront but we cant have a team full of olineman...
Colon and Kemo showed flashes in limited playing time lastt season....
Okobi has been waiting in the wings for years with little PT sent his way....
Essex got valluable playing time during the SB year...

Look you can only start/play 5 at a time

Now if we move Faneca...different story...then we need to look at a deep group of G's in this years draft

coachspeak33
04-24-2007, 09:52 AM
You're right, no concern with an OL that almost got Ben killed last season, and one which will be changed drastically come opening day. I wish I had as much faith in those guys riding the bench.

Your point is well taken but I firmly believe that gameplan, preperation, motivation, and play-calliing had as much to do with an O-line's (that only a yr prior had won a SB) struggles.

I just dont believe personnel was the culprit behind last yrs struggles.

DACEB
04-24-2007, 09:58 AM
Nice to see Willie isn't a selfish player.

Absolutely, I mentioned this before, FWP seems to be perfect for a two back system. He is a team oriented guy who is willing to do what it takes to win, including share the spotlight. I also like the leadership he showed last year speaking out about the lack of focus and drive through last season.

fansince'76
04-24-2007, 10:06 AM
Your point is well taken but I firmly believe that gameplan, preperation, motivation, and play-calliing had as much to do with an O-line's (that only a yr prior had won a SB) struggles.

I just dont believe personnel was the culprit behind last yrs struggles.

Yeah, you're right - I still can't understand why the OL pulled such a "Mr. Hyde" last season when they played so well the year before. :hunch:

coachspeak33
04-24-2007, 10:12 AM
Yeah, you're right - I still can't understand why the OL pulled such a "Mr. Hyde" last season when they played so well the year before. :hunch:

Just my opinion - The NFL is a scheme/system league...yeah you need talent...but with only 16 days to prove yourselves and 349 other days to prepare, I truely believe that predictability will hurt you as mucch as anything else...Furthermore, Cowher & Co. displayed so little flexibility and creativity to counter any preparations made by the opposition...the end result was good players weaknesses on full display for the entire league and Bill didnt think his salary warranted any major changes or adjustments except for running that terrible fake punt vs SD on a sunday night .... oh yeah and sitting Ike Taylor....great job chin

memphissteelergirl
04-24-2007, 10:13 AM
Gotta love Willie's "team player" attitude he exhibits during the interview.

As for Davenport being the back to compliment Willie, well I'm going to keep an open mind on that for now. I know last year Davenport did not get a full season\camp under his belt. This season he is here from day one and that's enough for me to give him a chance.


^ :iagree:

coachspeak33
04-24-2007, 10:27 AM
Davenport isnt the answer...ask yourself this...Why was he let go from GB??? If a guy isnt let go due to salary reasons, then he probably carries some baggage with him. Maybe he cant play that well, maybe he isnt a good team guy, maybe he has a bad work ethic, etc.

For GB to give him away and for no other team to show any interest in him throughout training camp and preseason last yr (remember we didnt sign him until the reg season had sttarted).....
that is too much negative evidence for me to assume he can fill the #2 RB role needed...he can help on ST's I guess...but even that seems a stretch considering he appears to visit buffets on a reg. basis.....

We need to make the #2RB a priority in the draft...maybe not Rd 1 but definitely day 1

Livinginthe past
04-24-2007, 11:16 AM
Davenport isnt the answer...ask yourself this...Why was he let go from GB??? If a guy isnt let go due to salary reasons, then he probably carries some baggage with him. Maybe he cant play that well, maybe he isnt a good team guy, maybe he has a bad work ethic, etc.

For GB to give him away and for no other team to show any interest in him throughout training camp and preseason last yr (remember we didnt sign him until the reg season had sttarted).....
that is too much negative evidence for me to assume he can fill the #2 RB role needed...he can help on ST's I guess...but even that seems a stretch considering he appears to visit buffets on a reg. basis.....

We need to make the #2RB a priority in the draft...maybe not Rd 1 but definitely day 1

I think he was hoping to mould himself into an impressive number 2!

coachspeak33
04-24-2007, 11:17 AM
HAHAHA-we might need to keep him around for all the POOPOO jokes

lamberts-lost-tooth
04-24-2007, 11:31 AM
I'm still holding out hope that we pick up Bush at some point during the draft. IMO he's not only the ONLY back outside of Peterson and Lynch that will be an immediate impact player. But a near perfect power compliment to Willie.
If it wasn't for his Injury he would have easily graded out as a top 15-20 pick. (possibly higher) And regarding that injury,....he seems to be on track to return to his previous form sooner than many would have expected. (judging from recent reports)

I would add Brian Leonard to that VERY short list!!

coachspeak33
04-24-2007, 11:34 AM
I love what Brian Leonard would bring to our football team

Jeremy
04-24-2007, 11:39 AM
I would add Brian Leonard to that VERY short list!!

Maybe as a fullback or an H Back. But the kid won't make a significant impact as a running back.

tony hipchest
04-24-2007, 11:54 AM
Maybe as a fullback or an H Back. But the kid won't make a significant impact as a running back.put him in a system like philly's and i coud see him with 50 catches and 600-700 yds rushing, while splitting time.

lamberts-lost-tooth
04-24-2007, 11:55 AM
Maybe as a fullback or an H Back. But the kid won't make a significant impact as a running back.

played two years as a RB...averaged over 5 yards per carry....and is projected as a RB in the NFL...sort of a Brandon Jacobs type of player, will split time with a fast-back

Jeremy
04-24-2007, 12:02 PM
Look, I see at least three backs I'd rather have before him. I see him as a "rich man's version" of John Kuhn.

fansince'76
04-24-2007, 12:10 PM
HAHAHA-we might need to keep him around for all the POOPOO jokes

Not to mention the "plumber's crack" jokes - I hope they get him outfitted with some better fitting pants this season at least. :chuckle:

lamberts-lost-tooth
04-24-2007, 12:12 PM
Look, I see at least three backs I'd rather have before him. I see him as a "rich man's version" of John Kuhn.

John Kuhn?....Leonard will go in the first two rounds!!!

tony hipchest
04-24-2007, 12:17 PM
Look, I see at least three backs I'd rather have before him. I see him as a "rich man's version" of John Kuhn.

id put him closer to mike alstott than j. kuhn
3. Brian Leonard, RB Rutgers -- It was clear in talking to Leonard that he does want his chance to run the ball before switching to fullback. He told me he could have left school a year ago before Ray Rice emerged as the big-time back and moved into the top running back spot. Leonard felt like he had to see the Rutgers rebuilding program through to the end and stayed. My impressions of Brian are he's extremely versatile and the ultimate team player. He's probably a second-round guy, but don't be shocked if he lasts 10 years in the NFL.

coachspeak33
04-24-2007, 12:23 PM
I think we are running out of white running backs to compare him to....oh wait a minute...Rich Erenberg...thats who he reminds me of....

More importantly he doesnt remind me of the Najeh or Verron

Jeremy
04-24-2007, 12:44 PM
John Kuhn?....Leonard will go in the first two rounds!!!

That's why he's the rich man's version. not the poor man's version.

1NYSTEELER1
04-24-2007, 04:20 PM
Rich Erenberg, remember when he rushed against Los Angeles Raiders with a broken nose and had racoon eyes - now he is a soldier. And for you younger kids here are his career stats:

| Rushing | Receiving |
+----------+-----+--------------------------+-------------------------+
| Year TM | G | Att Yards Y/A TD | Rec Yards Y/R TD |
+----------+-----+--------------------------+-------------------------+
| 1984 pit | 16 | 115 405 3.5 2 | 38 358 9.4 1 |
| 1985 pit | 14 | 17 67 3.9 0 | 33 326 9.9 3 |
| 1986 pit | 16 | 42 170 4.0 1 | 27 217 8.0 3 |
+----------+-----+--------------------------+-------------------------+
| TOTAL | 46 | 174 642 3.7 3 | 98 901 9.2 7 |
+----------+-----+--------------------------+-------------------------+

coachspeak33
04-27-2007, 08:38 AM
Brian Leonard did rush for 1,000 yds/season before Ray Rice got there

Dynasty
04-27-2007, 11:32 PM
Willie also has prior experience in a 2back offense. In the Super Bowl year, he was part of one with Jerome to a degree.