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Old 10-31-2009, 07:29 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' Parker knows the score

Steelers' Parker knows the score
By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer, dlolley@observer-reporter.com
http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/...teelers-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.
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:26 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker knows the score

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Originally Posted by steeltreal View Post
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.
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Old 10-31-2009, 04:05 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker knows the score

And now comes the burning question: Runningback depth after this year?
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Old 10-31-2009, 05:22 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker knows the score

Parker is way to fragile to invest big bucks in.
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Old 10-31-2009, 05:32 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker knows the score

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And now comes the burning question: Runningback depth after this year?

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.....
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Old 10-31-2009, 07:48 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker knows the score

I am very impressed by the way Parker is handling his demotion thus far. 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.
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:31 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker knows the score

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
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:57 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker knows the score

The answer = Dexter McCluster !
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Old 11-01-2009, 02:16 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker knows the score

Quote:
Originally Posted by steeltreal View Post
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.
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Old 11-01-2009, 02:20 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker knows the score

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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.


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.
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