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mesaSteeler
10-31-2009, 07:29 AM
Steelers' Parker knows the score
By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer, dlolley@observer-reporter.com
http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/localsports/10-29-Steelers-Parker
This article has been read 2111 times.

PITTSBURGH - When head coach Mike Tomlin announced last week he was sticking with second-year running back Rashard Mendenhall over veteran Willie Parker as the starter, it wasn't much of a surprise, even to Parker.

Parker said last week he wasn't 100 percent healthy after sitting out two games with a sprained toe and he understood Tomlin's decision to stay with Mendenhall, who's averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

What Parker probably didn't realize was his reserve status would net him just one carry in last Sunday's 27-17 victory over Minnesota.

That was three fewer carries than third-down back Mewelde Moore and one fewer than rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace, who had 19 yards on two end-arounds.

Tomlin said Parker's lack of carries had more to do with what the Vikings were doing than with what the Steelers (5-2) were planning to do.

"We had the ball 23 minutes," Tomlin said. "We had a couple of three-and-outs and things of that nature. You're not going to find a rhythm within games like that. We're not going to run it as much as we'd like.

"You could ask anybody about their level of participation; it will be below the line under those circumstances. ... We didn't get enough snaps."

Minnesota ran 78 plays compared to 49 for the Steelers and held a 13:56 advantage in time of possession. Parker, the Steelers' leading rusher the past four seasons, played in just one series, gaining two yards on his only carry.

While Parker might not be happy with only getting one carry in a game, he certainly is no stranger to a running back losing a starting job because of injury.

"I got my starting job when guys got hurt," he said.

Signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2004, Parker played sparingly that season, getting 32 carries for 186 yards.

Training camp injuries to Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis the following year left Parker with a starting role heading into the regular season. He ran with it, gaining 161 yards in a season-opening victory over Tennessee before rushing for 111 yards in a win over Houston the next week.

By the time Bettis and Staley returned, Parker was the Steelers' feature back and finished the season with 1,202 yards and four touchdowns, helping the team to a victory in Super Bowl XL over Seattle.

He's continued in that starting role the past five seasons until the toe injury suffered in Cincinnati sidelined him for two games.

Mendenhall, the Steelers' top pick in 2008, has responded with 373 yards rushing on 71 carries with four touchdowns in four games. Parker has gained 187 yards on 60 carries.

"I'm not healthy," said Parker, who's third on the team's all-time rushing list with 5,176 yards. "Coach and I talk all the time and he knows I'm not healthy. We'll see where we're at when I'm back to where I need to be."

But the writing may be on the wall for Parker.

He is one of five starters who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents at the end of this season. Nose tackle Casey Hampton, free safety Ryan Clark, placekicker Jeff Reed and right tackle Willie Colon are the others.

All have expressed an interest in returning to the Steelers next year, but the Steelers might want to go in another direction.

Odds and end zones

Tomlin gave the veterans a week off because the Steelers won't play until Nov. 9 in Denver. Only rookies were required to report to the training facility Wednesday. ... This week's bye is the latest the Steelers have had one since the 1999 season, when they were off in Week 8. ... Since the NFL instituted bye weeks in 1990, the Steelers are 11-9 the following week. Tomlin's record is 1-2 coming out of the bye. ... An official scoring change from Minnesota game has given defensive tackle Kevin Williams a sack for minus-one yard of Ben Roethlisberger. The play was originally ruled a scramble.

Vincent
10-31-2009, 01:26 PM
I blame the RAMS for Parkers decline. In a game back in 07 late in the season Parker is on his way to a leading rusher title with 1 game left in the season. Parker goes down on a play in the 1st quarter and is done for the season. Najeh Davenport comes in and has finishes off the Rams with 100+ yards. The next week Steelers Lose to Baltimore and a week later , lose to Jacksonville in the wild card. Could have had the Best rusher at the time and possibly a superbowl contender Steelers might have already had 7

While I appreciate the sentiment, the 07 Steelers were out of gas. They lost 4 of their last 5 games. That was not a team that had any chance of winning a 6th Lombardi. But that finish might well have paved the way for the team that did.

Psyychoward86
10-31-2009, 04:05 PM
And now comes the burning question: Runningback depth after this year? :stirthepot:

steeltheone
10-31-2009, 05:22 PM
Parker is way to fragile to invest big bucks in.

The Definiti0n
10-31-2009, 05:32 PM
And now comes the burning question: Runningback depth after this year? :stirthepot:


Great use of a smiley LOL.

I am guessing Mendy with Redman as the primary backup and Moore on 3rd down? Not sure where Summers fits in.....

HometownGal
10-31-2009, 07:48 PM
I am very impressed by the way Parker is handling his demotion thus far. :drink: If Mendy can learn to hold onto the pigskin and continues being impressive in the backfield, I seriously doubt Parker will be wearing the black 'n gold next season, sadly. As far as the depth at the RB position goes, don't be surprised to see the Steelers take a back in the 3rd or 4th round in April to compliment MeMo and Redman.

tyler289
10-31-2009, 08:31 PM
Glad to see Parker is handling the demotion like a class act. He's most likely gone after this season and I expect the team to look for a veteran backup RB in free agency, or rely on Mendenhall/Moore/Redman/etc

Steel-Bryan
11-01-2009, 12:57 AM
The answer = Dexter McCluster !

steelreserve
11-01-2009, 02:16 AM
I blame the RAMS for Parkers decline. In a game back in 07 late in the season Parker is on his way to a leading rusher title with 1 game left in the season. Parker goes down on a play in the 1st quarter and is done for the season. Najeh Davenport comes in and has finishes off the Rams with 100+ yards. The next week Steelers Lose to Baltimore and a week later , lose to Jacksonville in the wild card. Could have had the Best rusher at the time and possibly a superbowl contender Steelers might have already had 7

I seriously doubt having Willie Parker in the lineup would put us over the top for a Super Bowl. He's never done shit for us in the playoffs outside of one lucky play, and his regular-season stats are inflated by piling up yards against bad teams. Any halfway decent running back could've done that. Parker in his "prime" -- I use that term loosely -- was good for fantasy football numbers, but total season yardage doesn't really tell the story when you singlehandedly kill 3-4 drives a game, now does it?

We won these last two Super Bowls in spite of Parker, not because of him, and the sooner he's gone, the better.

Preacher
11-01-2009, 02:20 AM
I seriously doubt having Willie Parker in the lineup would put us over the top for a Super Bowl. He's never done shit for us in the playoffs outside of one lucky play, and his regular-season stats are inflated by piling up yards against bad teams. Any halfway decent running back could've done that. Parker in his "prime" -- I use that term loosely -- was good for fantasy football numbers, but total season yardage doesn't really tell the story when you singlehandedly kill 3-4 drives a game, now does it?

We won these last two Super Bowls in spite of Parker, not because of him, and the sooner he's gone, the better.

:rofl:

Dude. Just get the hatred out of your system... Go ahead. let it all out.

BTW . . . Did you see all those drive killing tackles behind the line that Mendy got last game? Game before? Yeah, it happens to EVERY back.

steelreserve
11-01-2009, 02:32 AM
:rofl:

Dude. Just get the hatred out of your system... Go ahead. let it all out.

BTW . . . Did you see all those drive killing tackles behind the line that Mendy got last game? Game before? Yeah, it happens to EVERY back.

Not like I said anything that wasn't true.

Seriously, have you just not noticed how the entire offense has become about twice as efficient now that we have a NORMAL running back for once? Just like I said it would?

No Parker -- we actually make 3rd-and-2 either running or passing, just like I said.

No Parker -- we are actually IN 3rd-and-2 instead of 3rd-and-11, just like I said.

No Parker -- sacks are cut in half, just like I said.

No Parker -- running backs are catching passes and opening up the whole offense, just like I said, and Ben is having a record year.

No Parker -- offensive line looks a lot better, just like I said.

No Parker -- offense is consistent again, just like I said.

Seriously, this is NOT just about the handful of times per game when the offense screws up and a running play turns into a busted play and anyone from Walter Paton to Walter Abercrombie would get tackled for a loss. Do you really still not get how this works?

Preacher
11-01-2009, 02:38 AM
Not like I said anything that wasn't true.

Seriously, have you just not noticed how the entire offense has become about twice as efficient now that we have a NORMAL running back for once? Just like I said it would?

No Parker -- we actually make 3rd-and-2 either running or passing, just like I said.

No Parker -- we are actually IN 3rd-and-2 instead of 3rd-and-11, just like I said.

No Parker -- sacks are cut in half, just like I said.

No Parker -- running backs are catching passes and opening up the whole offense, just like I said, and Ben is having a record year.

No Parker -- offensive line looks a lot better, just like I said.

No Parker -- offense is consistent again, just like I said.

Seriously, this is NOT just about the handful of times per game when the offense screws up and a running play turns into a busted play and anyone from Walter Paton to Walter Abercrombie would get tackled for a loss. Do you really still not get how this works?

No, I completely get the fact that everyone and there mother, except for seemingly you, understands that in the last 3 games, we have had an O line that hasn't shown up for the previous 3 years. Now, they do and viola! We have a run game.


Do you really still not get how that works?

steelwalls
11-01-2009, 04:54 AM
Dont think he will be back next season, injuries and salary cap will be the deciding factor.

solardave
11-01-2009, 05:49 AM
Glad to see Parker is handling the demotion like a class act. He's most likely gone after this season and I expect the team to look for a veteran backup RB in free agency, or rely on Mendenhall/Moore/Redman/etc

While I agree he's probably gone I don't agree that they'll look to free agency. I think they get a RB in the draft mid to late rounds or find another Parker type that goes undrafted. You know a diamond in the rough.

Galax Steeler
11-01-2009, 05:55 AM
I think it is pretty much painted on the wall that Parker is gone. It is time to move on with Mendenhall. I have to say in the past I respected Parker but now I wish he would go on somewhere else. It just seems like he don't try anymore he falls to the ground with the first contact and he don't hit the holes like he used to.

El-Gonzo Jackson
11-01-2009, 10:09 AM
And now comes the burning question: Runningback depth after this year? :stirthepot:

Mendenhall
Moore
Summers
Logan
Redman (or rookie 4th round pick)

madtowndrunkard
11-01-2009, 11:27 AM
No, I completely get the fact that everyone and there mother, except for seemingly you, understands that in the last 3 games, we have had an O line that hasn't shown up for the previous 3 years. Now, they do and viola! We have a run game.


Do you really still not get how that works?


Did our O-line show up or did the Browns and Lions show up?

Mendenhall is the better RB....he's got the ability to break a tackle...Parker does not right now. Parker's thing was to avoid tackles with his quickness....he's now lacking quickness because of his foot.

madtowndrunkard
11-01-2009, 11:33 AM
I think the FO will sign a veteran RB to replace Parker. A RB who is especially good at picking up blitzes. Right now if Moore goes down we are in trouble.

We'll also draft a RB in the 3rd or 4th rounds to compete with Redman.

Parker will be a good signing for someone. He's a solid RB who would fit well in a 2 - RB system.

madtowndrunkard
11-01-2009, 11:41 AM
People forget there is a VERY good chance for an NFL lock out next year. The CBA is coming up and the owners will never allow the salary cap system to go away. I highly doubt there will be a full season next year. It's going to get ugly.

The NFL is going to change drastically over the next 2 years. Expect more regular season games, a rookie salary cap, a higher salary cap, more players per roster, and a reduction in RFA's, two bye weeks, etc. It wouldn't shock me to see another team or two added to the NFL either.

El-Gonzo Jackson
11-01-2009, 01:34 PM
Did our O-line show up or did the Browns and Lions show up?

. You forgot that San Diego D line without Jamaal Williams and Igor Olshansky from last year.

Our O line is playing better and is better with Essex instead of Stapleton....but they have also played some weaker defensive fronts(with the exception of Minnesota).

steelreserve
11-01-2009, 03:26 PM
No, I completely get the fact that everyone and there mother, except for seemingly you, understands that in the last 3 games, we have had an O line that hasn't shown up for the previous 3 years. Now, they do and viola! We have a run game.


Do you really still not get how that works?

Eveyrone loves to use the O-line as their go-to argument, but the fact of the matter is, the offensive line was above average to very good for two out of the past three seasons, last year being the exception. Parker has such glaring weaknesses, it DOES make other people on the offense look bad.

Fine, you want to look at the night-and-day difference between the way we've moved the ball with Parker vs. Mendenhall as the starter this year -- hell, any time in the past three ears -- and chalk it up to coincidence, then go ahead. Doesn't make you any smarter or more of a "team player," just as blind to the obvious truth as ever.

xbroughneck
11-01-2009, 03:52 PM
I seriously doubt having Willie Parker in the lineup would put us over the top for a Super Bowl. He's never done shit for us in the playoffs outside of one lucky play, and his regular-season stats are inflated by piling up yards against bad teams. Any halfway decent running back could've done that. Parker in his "prime" -- I use that term loosely -- was good for fantasy football numbers, but total season yardage doesn't really tell the story when you singlehandedly kill 3-4 drives a game, now does it?

We won these last two Super Bowls in spite of Parker, not because of him, and the sooner he's gone, the better.

That's a bit harsh considering it's targeted at a current, contributing member of the Steelers. One who has given the organization a lot (yes, they've given him a lot too).

I won't miss Willie as a starter, but I'll miss him on our roster when he's gone. That break away speed was nice to watch.

His poor vision between the tackles is why he shouldn't be the Steelers starter though.

smokin3000gt
11-01-2009, 04:07 PM
I could be wrong, but I don't see willy taking a discount/back up role (IF they even make him an offer). I think this is his last year with us.

Preacher
11-01-2009, 07:12 PM
Eveyrone loves to use the O-line as their go-to argument, but the fact of the matter is, the offensive line was above average to very good for two out of the past three seasons, last year being the exception. Parker has such glaring weaknesses, it DOES make other people on the offense look bad.

Fine, you want to look at the night-and-day difference between the way we've moved the ball with Parker vs. Mendenhall as the starter this year -- hell, any time in the past three ears -- and chalk it up to coincidence, then go ahead. Doesn't make you any smarter or more of a "team player," just as blind to the obvious truth as ever.

Um...

You have WAY too much emotionally invested in this argument.

I give up, you win. Willie sucks. The O line has been great since he started, and Willie has never contributed to the team except for that 1 play.

Preacher
11-01-2009, 07:14 PM
His poor vision between the tackles is why he shouldn't be the Steelers starter though.

About 3 weeks ago is when I concluded I am done with him being the starter, but it was because of his inability to stay healthy anymore.

Someone said it earlier, The coaches DID run the wheels off of Willie P.

steelreserve
11-02-2009, 11:06 AM
Um...

You have WAY too much emotionally invested in this argument.

I give up, you win. Willie sucks. The O line has been great since he started, and Willie has never contributed to the team except for that 1 play.

Hey, I don't have this as my sig for nothing.

El-Gonzo Jackson
11-02-2009, 12:17 PM
The writing was on the wall when Mendenhall was drafted.

Parker is taking it well and why shouldnt he. Its still a long season and he stands to make some good $$ on the free agent market next season. All he needs is a couple good performances in games to cash in for the next and final contract of his career. I still like FWP and hope things turn out well for him, but we cant pay everybody.

I would also think that any or all of Reed, Hampton, Townsend, Spaeth, Colon might not reach contract agreements next season too and be gone as well. I think the Steelers will make an effort with Hampton and Colon though.

steelreserve
11-02-2009, 12:58 PM
I would also think that any or all of Reed, Hampton, Townsend, Spaeth, Colon might not reach contract agreements next season too and be gone as well. I think the Steelers will make an effort with Hampton and Colon though.

I also think they might take a shot at Townsend if the price is right. He's been reliable as hell for us, and I don't think he's going to get much money from another team at this point in his career, if he gets a deal at all. Let me put it this way: If I had to choose between Townsend and Carter, I'd take Townsend in a second.

Spaeth is as good as gone; he hardly even plays anymore. Reed, who knows at this point.

El-Gonzo Jackson
11-02-2009, 01:29 PM
I also think they might take a shot at Townsend if the price is right. He's been reliable as hell for us, and I don't think he's going to get much money from another team at this point in his career, if he gets a deal at all. Let me put it this way: If I had to choose between Townsend and Carter, I'd take Townsend in a second.

Spaeth is as good as gone; he hardly even plays anymore. Reed, who knows at this point.

Next year is Townsend's 13th year and he will be 35 years old. I'll honestly be shocked if he gets an offer. Considering Keenan Lewis, Joe Burnett were drafted and Ratliff was signed, I think both Gay and Ratliff get contract offers and DeShea retires.

Reed might lessen his demands, but the run-ins with the cops dont bode well in his favour. Spaeth might come cheap, but considering Miller, McHugh have contracts and Johnson looks good, I can easily see Spaeth moving on.

I like Parker, but am gonna be laughing to see your reaction when he finally moves on this offseason.

Angus Burgher
11-02-2009, 02:02 PM
I think it is pretty much painted on the wall that Parker is gone. It is time to move on with Mendenhall. I have to say in the past I respected Parker but now I wish he would go on somewhere else. It just seems like he don't try anymore he falls to the ground with the first contact and he don't hit the holes like he used to.

Oh, he hits the holes. If there are divots anywhere on the field, he'll find all of them and fall flat on his face.

steelreserve
11-02-2009, 05:07 PM
Next year is Townsend's 13th year and he will be 35 years old. I'll honestly be shocked if he gets an offer. Considering Keenan Lewis, Joe Burnett were drafted and Ratliff was signed, I think both Gay and Ratliff get contract offers and DeShea retires.

Reed might lessen his demands, but the run-ins with the cops dont bode well in his favour. Spaeth might come cheap, but considering Miller, McHugh have contracts and Johnson looks good, I can easily see Spaeth moving on.

I like Parker, but am gonna be laughing to see your reaction when he finally moves on this offseason.

I don't know. Townsend could go either way -- yeah, he's old, but he seems to be carrying his age well and I've seen plenty of CBs play into their late 30s before. Probably depends on whether the rookies are ready or not. And if Carter doesn't come back, maybe that opens up another spot as a backup CB/S.

Like I said, who the hell knows about Reed. It wouldn't surprise me to see him stay, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him go. It certainly doesn't help his cause that we brought in another guy in training camp who seemed to do reasonably well -- although that makes me less worried about whatever is going to happen.

Parker ... ohhh, man, don't even get me started. When that happens, I am probably taking off work and going on an all-day bender at the very least. I'll shoot off fireworks too, if I can get my hands on any.