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Old 05-07-2008, 06:27 AM   #1
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Default Steelers Team Report

Steelers Team Report
Yahoo! Sports
May 2, 1:50 am EDT

Inside Slant

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians already has gone to work on his playbook after the Steelers drafted running back Rashard Mendenhall and wide receiver Limas Sweed.


Willie Parker will still be the man in Pittsburgh’s backfield, but he’ll have to make room for Mendenhall, and they’ll be lined up behind Ben Roethlisberger at the same time on occasion. Arians plans to pair the two in a “Pony” package he used during his days as Cleveland’s offensive coordinator.


And when they’re not playing together, they’ll be a tag-team, with Mendenhall relieving Parker and also taking over on short yardage. No longer will the undersized Parker have more than 300 carries. It may mean he no longer challenges for the NFL rushing title as he did last season, when he led the league before breaking his leg in the 15th game.

But that’s OK with everyone, including Parker, who said before the draft he’d like to share the duties with someone because it would keep him fresh and extend his career.

“He extends Willie’s career, for sure,” Arians said. “And it’s not like just taking Willie out of the game and putting in a sub, you’re putting in a high-caliber guy … close to him, yet different.”

The versatile Mendenhall can run, block and catch and they can split him wide, especially if he and Parker play at the same time. Arians, a former Colts assistant, called Mendenhall a bigger, faster Edgerrin James.

“Other than the normal one-two punch, they can play together,” Arians said, a philosophy the Steelers haven’t used in years. “Rashard has enough size as a pass blocker and pass receiver and Willie is improving in that area every year as a receiver. They could block for each other. Willie is capable. You’re not going to ask him to lead on the linebacker, but he can handle certain things.”

The pairing of the two would not be the focal point of the offense, Arians noted. But he said it would give defenses something to think about. When he used it in Cleveland, most opponents stayed with their regular defense, he said.

“Do they defend two backs with their regular group?” Arians asked. “OK, we have a mismatch on a linebacker. Do they put a nickel group in there to cover them? Then we should be able to run the ball (against) a nickel group.”

Notes, Quotes

• The Steelers did not plan to draft a tailback and wide receiver in the first two rounds, it just happened that way.


“I was shocked,” offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. “It was because of the run on linemen. People panicked. I called it a panic attack on offensive linemen. All of a sudden guys were trading away future picks and stuff to go get one of those tackles because this was the year to get a tackle. And when it happened, the tremendous skill guys dropped, man they were passing them up.”


• With Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall in the same lineup, and with Pittsburgh’s reputation for running the ball, might they become the first team to have two separate combinations of 1,000-yard rushers?


It’s been done only four times in NFL history, and the Steelers were one of them when Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier each topped 1,000 yards in 1976.


• The Steelers, who had traded away their seventh-round pick last season, added another seventh-draft choice after a trade with the Giants. They swapped fourth-round picks with the Giants and received a sixth-round choice in return, which became inside linebacker Mike Humpal.


Even though they moved down seven spots in the fourth round, they said they would have taken the same guy higher up anyway, offensive tackle Tony Hills.


“We stated earlier that we wanted to get at least one pick back, and we got to a point in the fourth round where we did have our eyes on Tony Hills, and we said let’s take a chance,” said director of football operations Kevin Colbert. “It worked out to our benefit, because he was the player that we would have taken had we not traded down.”


• The Steelers did not draft a defensive end, where their top six players will be 30 to 34 years old come September.


“It’s one of the reasons we were happy to sign (backup defensive ends) Travis (Kirschke) and Nick (Eason) prior to the draft, so we wouldn’t put ourselves into a position where we felt like we needed to reach,” coach Mike Tomlin said.


Quote To Note: “It shouldn’t be too difficult finding ways that he can contribute to this football team.”—Mike Tomlin, on his first-round draft pick, Rashard Mendenhall

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_yl...pe=team_report
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Old 05-07-2008, 06:42 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers Team Report

Nice read Lambert.. I read this the other day and thought that it would have already been posted here, but i guess not. I dont really like the idea of Parker and Mendenhall being in the same backfield at the same time myself. I dont really believe that Parker is that good a blocker and Mendenhall is not gonna want to be a blocker either most likely. Now, to put Mendenhall behind Ben and send Willie in motion or split him out, but then is he that good of a reciever?.. if he is they have not shown it the last couple years with him.
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Old 05-07-2008, 08:20 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers Team Report

I'm sure none of the Steelers would mind sharing the spotlight if it meant they were winning games and winning Super BowlS
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Old 05-07-2008, 08:26 AM   #4
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if i was russell i would ask to be traded or cut.
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Old 05-07-2008, 08:31 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers Team Report

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Originally Posted by Elvis View Post
Nice read Lambert.. I read this the other day and thought that it would have already been posted here, but i guess not. I dont really like the idea of Parker and Mendenhall being in the same backfield at the same time myself. I dont really believe that Parker is that good a blocker and Mendenhall is not gonna want to be a blocker either most likely. Now, to put Mendenhall behind Ben and send Willie in motion or split him out, but then is he that good of a reciever?.. if he is they have not shown it the last couple years with him.
Mendenhall was used in quite a few blocking schemes this last year...I love the idea of setting on of them off in the flat ...and just traight up screwing with defense coordinators heads!
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Old 05-07-2008, 08:33 AM   #6
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if i was russell i would ask to be traded or cut.
I dont know if Russell has proved enough to make another team...he may want to just accept the paycheck and say "Thank you sir"...and wait for his time like willie did behind Bettis and Staley.
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Old 05-07-2008, 09:58 AM   #7
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I dont know if Russell has proved enough to make another team...he may want to just accept the paycheck and say "Thank you sir"...and wait for his time like willie did behind Bettis and Staley.
We could always set up in a 3 man backfield!!!
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Old 05-07-2008, 10:39 AM   #8
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We could always set up in a 3 man backfield!!!
3 tight ends, 3 runningbacks, who needs receivers or a QB?

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if i was russell i would ask to be traded or cut.
He would most likely get no offers. I like the depth we have with him, and I hope they use him at least in garbage time this season
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Old 05-07-2008, 10:46 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers Team Report

It should be an exciting upcoming season. I can't wait to see those two guys in the back field together.
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Old 05-07-2008, 11:24 AM   #10
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We could always set up in a 3 man backfield!!!
Actually, the Packers used a 3 back formation in their first playoff game in the 07 season against the Seahawks and it did work when used. I loved the line up they had. The fullbacks were in a T to Favre's left and right and the Running back was directly behind him. It was like an inverted Wishbone.

Not saying we should do that, but just saying, it can be done effectively in spots.
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