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83-Steelers-43
07-30-2007, 02:09 AM
Barlow dealing with unfamiliar situation
Primarily a starter his whole career, Kevan Barlow finds himself down the depth chart as a backup
Monday, July 30, 2007

By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Willie Parker said he would like to carry the ball even more this season for the Steelers, never mind that he carried 337 times in 2006 -- more times than all but three AFC running backs.

That is not good news for Kevan Barlow, who is still trying to adjust to not being the Willie Parker of his team.

Since entering the NFL in 2001 as a third-round draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers, Barlow has come to training camp as a starter or a player competing to be a starter. But, after signing as a free agent with the team he grew up watching, Barlow is competing, at best, to be Parker's top backup, or, at worst, the third-down back behind Parker and Najeh Davenport.

It is a different role for Barlow, who grew up in Garfield and played at Peabody High School and Pitt. And one to which he is still trying to get acclimated.

"It's definitely difficult when I'm used to being the guy who gets the load, who gets to carry the load," Barlow said. "Now it's funny taking a step back and seeing Willie be that. It's definitely hard for me to deal with that, not being that guy, because I'm a competitor."

The Steelers didn't sign Barlow, 28, in May to challenge Parker, a Pro Bowl selection in 2006 who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons. Nor did they do it because they were seeking someone other than Davenport, who was signed to a two-year contract in the offseason, to be the No. 2 back behind Parker.

Rather, they signed Barlow to provide depth in their backfield, especially when they were unsure if veteran Verron Haynes, their third-down back, would return from season-ending knee surgery -- his third in five seasons. And especially after not drafting a running back in April.

It was a good move by the Steelers. Barlow (6 feet 1, 234 pounds) has started 33 games in the NFL -- 30 with the 49ers -- and has gained 3,984 yards on 1,022 carries in six seasons, an average of nearly 4 yards per carry. In addition to scoring 30 touchdowns, he has caught 144 passes for 1,164 yards -- proof of his value as a third-down receiving back.

"I think the added depth is a plus," Davenport said. "The more guys you have to compete, the better off you become. When you have a lot of different guys who do different things, you pick up different stuff."

Still, after one week of training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, it hasn't made it any easier on Barlow.

"I'm going out there playing, man," said Barlow, who rushed for 2,324 yards and 20 touchdowns in just 15 starts at Pitt. "It's hard for me to play second hand to anyone because I've been a starter my whole career. In my mind, I'm preparing myself mentally like I'm a starting running back. Even though [Parker] is the starter, even though it might not happen, I want to be able to get in there in case something does happen."

Parker said, "If he didn't say that, he don't need to be in this league. That's what I tell guys all the time. If you're not trying to be a starter of the Pittsburgh Steelers, you're in the wrong field. If you're trying to be a third-down back, if you're trying to be a short-yardage back, you're in the wrong game."

Barlow's best season with the 49ers was 2003 when he rushed for 1,024 on 201 carries (5.1-yard average) and scored six touchdowns. Included was a 78-yard touchdown run against the Steelers in a 30-14 victory in San Francisco Nov. 17.

The following year, Barlow started 14 games and rushed for 822 yards and caught a career-high 35 passes, despite missing one game and not starting another because of a concussion. But everything began to spiral downward in 2005.

Barlow missed four of the final five games of the season with a knee injury and was traded in the summer to the New York Jets to make room for rookie Frank Gore. He started just three games with the Jets and did not play in four of the final five games.

The biggest noise he made was when he compared his former 49ers coach, Mike Nolan, to Adolph Hitler, saying he "walks around with a chip on his shoulder, like he's a dictator, like he's Hitler." Barlow quickly apologized for his comments.

Now he is back where it all started, competing with Haynes for the No. 3 back and hoping to recapture some past glory. Despite the presence of Parker and Davenport, Barlow maintains it was a good fit signing with the Steelers.

"It was because of everything in general," Barlow said. "I felt like I could come here and contribute and make some plays. It's fun, it's exciting, to have this competition. Najeh, I played against him in Miami [in college], now I see him in person and get to compete with him.

"I'm just going to try to make most out of it. I know anything can happen. I have to prepare myself mentally and physically to be able to play. If anything happens to Willie or Najeh, I can step in there and make something happen if my number is called on."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07211/805509-66.stm

83-Steelers-43
07-30-2007, 04:15 PM
"I'm going out there playing, man," said Barlow, who rushed for 2,324 yards and 20 touchdowns in just 15 starts at Pitt. "It's hard for me to play second hand to anyone because I've been a starter my whole career. In my mind, I'm preparing myself mentally like I'm a starting running back. Even though [Parker] is the starter, even though it might not happen, I want to be able to get in there in case something does happen."

"It was because of everything in general," Barlow said. "I felt like I could come here and contribute and make some plays. It's fun, it's exciting, to have this competition. Najeh, I played against him in Miami [in college], now I see him in person and get to compete with him.

"I'm just going to try to make most out of it. I know anything can happen. I have to prepare myself mentally and physically to be able to play. If anything happens to Willie or Najeh, I can step in there and make something happen if my number is called on."

If you ask me, it doesn't sound like Barlow "is the worst character guy" on the Steelers roster.

It makes you wonder who exactly is this guy's "source"....http://forums.steelersfever.com/showthread.php?t=18177&page=6 (Post #54)

Hey, maybe his source is Mike Nolan? :wink02:

Stlrs4Life
07-30-2007, 04:47 PM
Good question 83. Could it be Colbert also?

83-Steelers-43
07-30-2007, 04:57 PM
Good question 83. Could it be Colbert also?

I guess the mysteriously black cloaked "source" could be anybody....Colbert, Tomlin, The Cookie Monster. For me personally, until I see or hear Barlow causing problems (from a credible source), I'll take Barlow's word for it. Guy said everything right in the above article and has not given me any reason to think otherwise.

It's just odd that this guy is the only one I've heard bring up Barlow's name in a negative light since he arrived in Pittsburgh.

I still think it's Mike "Hitler" Nolan....:smile:

Preacher
07-30-2007, 06:44 PM
If you ask me, it doesn't sound like Barlow "is the worst character guy" on the Steelers roster.

It makes you wonder who exactly is this guy's "source"....http://forums.steelersfever.com/showthread.php?t=18177&page=6 (Post #54)

Hey, maybe his source is Mike Nolan? :wink02:


Yep... Which is why I posted this question...

On Barlow... was this a prognostication... or from actually being with the guys and watching. If it is the former... I wish the press would knock it off... if it is the latter...


Hmmm.... Me thinks prognostication...

http://forums.steelersfever.com/showpost.php?p=269268&postcount=59

steelpride12
07-30-2007, 10:52 PM
i could care less about Barlow and i'm not expecting much from him at all this year.

ChronoCross
07-30-2007, 10:58 PM
Barlow will get cut. When they talk about the performance of the RBs and FBs, Barlow is last on the list of ,,, well you could say not cutting it.

The Duke
07-30-2007, 11:06 PM
i could care less about Barlow and i'm not expecting much from him at all this year.

Agree. Maybe we should save time and cut him now, save him before Anthony Smith kills him on practice :toofunny:

Preacher
07-31-2007, 02:20 AM
I was excited about the Barlow signing, because of what he could do... and the fact that we need a good second back. I thought it would be nice if we had a stable of Barlow and Najeh to depend on.

Oh well.. If not, that is okay too!

Galax Steeler
07-31-2007, 05:01 AM
Yea I also see Barlow getting cut pretty soon.

barlowfan
07-31-2007, 08:17 AM
I am a Kevan Barlow fan, being family, give the guy a chance. He tried his best with the 49-ers, and a short time with the Jets. Everyone deserves a second chance before you throw him out. He is a damn good running back. Lets see what the season brings for him. Go Kevan- give it all you got.

Jman
07-31-2007, 08:42 AM
Kevan will have to show more than flashes of brilliance if he intends to remain a Pittsburgh Steeler. We'll see what happens. There were high expectations of the man, so...plus it would be nice to see some depth at RB.

steelpride12
07-31-2007, 10:40 AM
Agree. Maybe we should save time and cut him now, save him before Anthony Smith kills him on practice :toofunny:

Ha you an Anthony Smith...:coffee:

revefsreleets
07-31-2007, 06:23 PM
If Barlow makes the team, he'll have deserved it, and that means he'll play an important role. My guess is that Tomlin isn't going to be having many sweatsuit RB's this year.

Aussie_steeler
08-01-2007, 07:09 AM
Barlow leaving the door open for Russell
July 31st, 2007 by Neal Coolong
The lofty goals RB Willie Parker is setting for himself just might be enough to force out newly signed free agent Kevan Barlow.

Jim Wexell points out in his July 30 Herald-Standard column that Barlow?s less-than-desired blocking skills make him a tough fit for third-down duties (especially when Parker wants to stay on the field all three downs), and his reps in practice have been decreasing.

AOL?s JJ Cooper notes the same idea, making this excellent point:

Barlow has looked soft in hitting the hole. For a back who?s selling point is to be the power back compliment to Willie Parker that?s a bad sign. Add in some poor blocking and it?s already becoming hard to see where Barlow fits on this team.

The better question, though, is how the team will react to this. The Steelers clearly are going to give Parker the ball until he is no longer strong enough to battle gravity and pick his feet off the ground. Najeh Davenport is pretty well entrenched as the team?s No. 2 back. But with Verron Haynes? injuries (three knee surgeries in five years), and Barlow not showing he?s up to snuff thus far, will the Steelers just go with the least bad RB for the third spot on the depth chart, or scrap both of them for someone else?

I think the plan with rookie RB Gary Russell was always to see if he?s actually ready to compete (he missed his senior season at Minnesota due to academic ineligibility, and put on a lot of weight), and if he shows he has the desire, he?d be placed on the practice squad like Parker was his first year out of school.

Wexell reported on (insider access only) SteelCityInsider.com in May that Russell?s former offensive coordinator, Mitch Browning, said Russell?s only problems were staying eligible and getting in shape.

The only book Russell has to crack now is his playbook (he said he was just lazy in college, but he also says that?s not the case anymore), and he?s back down to his ideal playing weight of 215 pounds. He even impressed some during the backs on backers drill the first day of camp.

He may not sound like a power back at that size, but Russell?s junior year saw him handle the short-yardage situations in a powerful Gophers lineup that featured Laurence Maroney (and he and Marion Barber his sophomore year). Russell scored 18 touchdowns his last year there - Wexell said 17 of those were goal line carries - and the previous year, he was the third option behind two NFL-caliber backs who became the first RB tandem in NCAA history to each rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.

From the start, Russell was going to need a break to make the roster, but in situations like this, the Steelers need to figure out if they can risk putting him on the practice squad (a player on the practice squad can be picked up at any time by another team, provided he is put on their active roster), or does he contribute enough as a situational back and special teams player to earn a roster position? If ?D? stands for ?Degree,? there is no D in ?NFL.?

They face the same problem with rookie LT Jason Capizzi, whom the local media is raving about so far in camp. He?s been so impressive thus far, his secret is out, meaning he?s either going to be released or given a roster spot (no practice squad possibilites).

So perhaps Barlow, Haynes and RT Trai Essex have the same problem. Will they be victims of the Steelers? fantastic eye for undrafted talent?


http://diehardsteel.com/

An interesting article on Barlow and Russell.

revefsreleets
08-01-2007, 04:15 PM
If they can get Russell back to form, that could be Willie Parker II. He was an absolute stud sharing time with Maroney at Minnesota. I think he averages almost 7 YPC for the Gophers. This is bad news for Barlow.

Aussie_steeler
08-02-2007, 03:44 AM
I think they will take a chance on Russell, even if it is keeping him on the practice squad.

Barlows GONE!

Preacher
08-02-2007, 02:58 PM
It would be great to have two young backs on the team with a bright future in front of them... A young QB, and a young WR core to build on in Santonio and Reid. However, Reid has to show that promise in actual games, as well as Russell.... and Ben has to show he is ready to take the next steps in his career.

Galax Steeler
08-03-2007, 05:10 AM
I would like to see russell in action.

mental.apparition
08-03-2007, 12:34 PM
I think we'll get to see plenty of Barlow and Russell Sunday night. I'm not expecting much from Barlow and if Russell shows anything Barlow will hit the free agent wire in a couple of weeks.

By all accounts Davenport is firmly entrenched as #2. Remember this is his first full camp with the Steelers so Davenport will be much more comfortable with the system.

Running back is a young man's game and I'd really like for Russell to remove his head from his ass and make this squad.