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Old 04-22-2007, 09:34 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' Parker embraces multiback rushing attack

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/pitt.../s_504000.html
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Old 04-22-2007, 10:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker embraces multiback rushing attack

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.
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Old 04-22-2007, 12:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker embraces multiback rushing attack

One more reason we need to thank God that we have Parker. What a team player!
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Old 04-22-2007, 12:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker embraces multiback rushing attack

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Originally Posted by 19ward86 View Post
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.
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Old 04-22-2007, 12:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker embraces multiback rushing attack

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.
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Old 04-22-2007, 02:33 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker embraces multiback rushing attack

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.
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Old 04-22-2007, 03:03 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker embraces multiback rushing attack

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)
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Old 04-22-2007, 03:06 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker embraces multiback rushing attack

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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.
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Old 04-22-2007, 03:50 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker embraces multiback rushing attack

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.
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Old 04-22-2007, 04:05 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker embraces multiback rushing attack

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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.
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.
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