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fordfixer
07-11-2008, 10:02 PM
Pittsburgh's acquisition of ex-Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall in the first round of April's NFL draft was part of the reason why the Steelers recently decided to part ways with fellow runner Najeh Davenport. Further, the offseason pickup of free agent Mewelde Moore made Davenport’s ability to return kicks somewhat obsolete; after all, Moore is also an adept returner and a viable backup option at halfback. Still, there was another reason why Pittsburgh decided to drop Davenport, who rushed for 763 yards and seven touchdowns for the club over the course of two seasons.

That reason? Second-year running back Gary Russell, whom the Steelers didn't want to part with. Russell has a lack of experience, having garnered just 21 yards on seven carries during his pro career, but the Steelers were impressed during the 2007 preseason with two things: First, Russell's power; secondly, his willingness to learn. Moreover, they liked the way he finished runs, finished blocks, and generally improved during the course of last season.
http://www.realfootball365.com/index.ph ... lers/11942 (http://www.realfootball365.com/index.php/articles/steelers/11942)
Beyond his preseason performance from last summer, however, is the fact that Russell showed the ability to play very well at the highest level of college football; as a sophomore with the Minnesota Gophers, he rushed for 1,130 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. Even more impressive is that he split time with current Patriots running back Laurence Maroney while doing so, adding to the intrigue.

So how did a guy like this not get drafted? Well, that’s the other side of the coin. Simply put, Russell flunked out of school after that great season he had with the Gophers.

“It was me just being lazy, immature,” said the 21-year-old Russell.

Adding to the negative side of things is the fact that the 5-foot-11, 225-pounder showed up at the combine overweight and only ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash. But the bottom line is that Pittsburgh has seen players with little fanfare turn into stars. Their starting running back, Willie Parker, serves as a prime example of that. And they believe that Russell can be developed into a top-notch back in Parker's mold.

It’s hard to argue with the Steelers, who have proven over the years that they can find diamonds in the rough.

papillon
07-11-2008, 10:08 PM
Pittsburgh's acquisition of ex-Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall in the first round of April's NFL draft was part of the reason why the Steelers recently decided to part ways with fellow runner Najeh Davenport. Further, the offseason pickup of free agent Mewelde Moore made Davenport’s ability to return kicks somewhat obsolete; after all, Moore is also an adept returner and a viable backup option at halfback. Still, there was another reason why Pittsburgh decided to drop Davenport, who rushed for 763 yards and seven touchdowns for the club over the course of two seasons.

That reason? Second-year running back Gary Russell, whom the Steelers didn't want to part with. Russell has a lack of experience, having garnered just 21 yards on seven carries during his pro career, but the Steelers were impressed during the 2007 preseason with two things: First, Russell's power; secondly, his willingness to learn. Moreover, they liked the way he finished runs, finished blocks, and generally improved during the course of last season.

He carried the ball a grand total of 7 times for 21 yards and they know these things how?

http://www.realfootball365.com/index.ph ... lers/11942 (http://www.realfootball365.com/index.php/articles/steelers/11942)
Beyond his preseason performance from last summer, however, is the fact that Russell showed the ability to play very well at the highest level of college football; as a sophomore with the Minnesota Gophers, he rushed for 1,130 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. Even more impressive is that he split time with current Patriots running back Laurence Maroney while doing so, adding to the intrigue.

So how did a guy like this not get drafted? Well, that’s the other side of the coin. Simply put, Russell flunked out of school after that great season he had with the Gophers.

“It was me just being lazy, immature,” said the 21-year-old Russell.

Adding to the negative side of things is the fact that the 5-foot-11, 225-pounder showed up at the combine overweight and only ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash. But the bottom line is that Pittsburgh has seen players with little fanfare turn into stars. Their starting running back, Willie Parker, serves as a prime example of that. And they believe that Russell can be developed into a top-notch back in Parker's mold.

It’s hard to argue with the Steelers, who have proven over the years that they can find diamonds in the rough.

Pappy

stlrz d
07-11-2008, 10:19 PM
Pap - to answer your question, I think they're basing that on preseason and practice.

Honestly, I still think he's the reason the Steelers are looking at Kevin Jones. I think they like what they see enough to keep him on the roster but not enough to keep from looking elsewhere too.

papillon
07-11-2008, 11:05 PM
Pap - to answer your question, I think they're basing that on preseason and practice.

Honestly, I still think he's the reason the Steelers are looking at Kevin Jones. I think they like what they see enough to keep him on the roster but not enough to keep from looking elsewhere too.

I realize that, but, I hate when writers write stuff likethis when there really isn't any conclusive proof to anything that I had high-lighted. What would be wrong with specifically stating why you believe he finishes runs, blocks, etc.?

Just a pet peeve I guess.... :Beer

Pappy

stlrz d
07-11-2008, 11:09 PM
Pap - to answer your question, I think they're basing that on preseason and practice.

Honestly, I still think he's the reason the Steelers are looking at Kevin Jones. I think they like what they see enough to keep him on the roster but not enough to keep from looking elsewhere too.

I realize that, but, I hate when writers write stuff likethis when there really isn't any conclusive proof to anything that I had high-lighted. What would be wrong with specifically stating why you believe he finishes runs, blocks, etc.?

Just a pet peeve I guess.... :Beer

Pappy

I gotcha! :wink:

Shawn
07-11-2008, 11:19 PM
Ehhh Pappy don't take a squat on Russell. You know the guy has mad skillz. :) Honestly, that writer is really just regurgitating what we have been saying for awhile now. The fact is...he is 225 pounds of powerful potential but thats all he will be until he gets some PT. Like I have said previously...from what I have seen of him in college and some of his preseason...the guy is probably the Steeler best power runner. While Mendenhall is THE all around back...he isn't the pure sledge hammer like Russell. Russell has been favorably compared to his former teammate Barber in his ability to pick up the tough yards. I would not be shocked at all to see Russell in on some short yardage situations this season. But, honestly he will have to shine and I mean shine to get any real PT this season barring major injury.

papillon
07-11-2008, 11:29 PM
Ehhh Pappy don't take a squat on Russell. You know the guy has mad skillz. :) Honestly, that writer is really just regurgitating what we have been saying for awhile now. The fact is...he is 225 pounds of powerful potential but thats all he will be until he gets some PT. Like I have said previously...from what I have seen of him in college and some of his preseason...the guy is probably the Steeler best power runner. While Mendenhall is THE all around back...he isn't the pure sledge hammer like Russell. Russell has been favorably compared to his former teammate Barber in his ability to pick up the tough yards. I would not be shocked at all to see Russell in on some short yardage situations this season. But, honestly he will have to shine and I mean shine to get any real PT this season barring major injury.

I Don't doubt any of that, but, why in the hell did we have so much trouble in the damn red zone last year? If runs downhill and finishes runs he should have been in the game for more than 7 carries. I want him to be successful and everything you believe he can be, but, the writer has him the second coming of Jerome Bettis and he had 7 damn carries. That is all...rant over...Here have a little of this. :Boobs :P

Pappy

Oviedo
07-11-2008, 11:31 PM
Very soon, Mendenhall and Russell will be punishing opposing defenses and beating them into submission late in games. Our own two-headed monster.

Shawn
07-11-2008, 11:38 PM
Ehhh Pappy don't take a squat on Russell. You know the guy has mad skillz. :) Honestly, that writer is really just regurgitating what we have been saying for awhile now. The fact is...he is 225 pounds of powerful potential but thats all he will be until he gets some PT. Like I have said previously...from what I have seen of him in college and some of his preseason...the guy is probably the Steeler best power runner. While Mendenhall is THE all around back...he isn't the pure sledge hammer like Russell. Russell has been favorably compared to his former teammate Barber in his ability to pick up the tough yards. I would not be shocked at all to see Russell in on some short yardage situations this season. But, honestly he will have to shine and I mean shine to get any real PT this season barring major injury.

I Don't doubt any of that, but, why in the hell did we have so much trouble in the damn red zone last year? If runs downhill and finishes runs he should have been in the game for more than 7 carries. I want him to be successful and everything you believe he can be, but, the writer has him the second coming of Jerome Bettis and he had 7 damn carries. That is all...rant over...Here have a little of this. :Boobs :P

Pappy

Why didn't our first round LB get more PT? I can't say...but I don't take that as a failure. What people need to keep in mind is Russell had been out of football for a year. To ask why an undrafted rookie RB didn't get more PT is an exercise in futility because we don't know enough about Tomlin to come to a reasonable conclusion. Maybe he just doesn't like to see rookies get alot of PT. Maybe Russell though full of potential just wasn't ready. I'm not sure...but it doesn't concern me.

Shawn
07-11-2008, 11:39 PM
Very soon, Mendenhall and Russell will be punishing opposing defenses and beating them into submission late in games. Our own two-headed monster.

Yep...I believe that will be in Russells third season unless Parker isn't ready to go or he gets hurt again.

papillon
07-11-2008, 11:40 PM
Very soon, Mendenhall and Russell will be punishing opposing defenses and beating them into submission late in games. Our own two-headed monster.

Maybe. I don't dismiss Parker as easily as some. He'll have to prove to me that he isn't one of the best backs in this league before Mendenhall and Russell become 1-2. As of right now he's proven he's one of the best in the league.


Pappy

Shawn
07-11-2008, 11:41 PM
Very soon, Mendenhall and Russell will be punishing opposing defenses and beating them into submission late in games. Our own two-headed monster.

Maybe. I don't dismiss Parker as easily as some. He'll have to prove to me that he isn't one of the best backs in this league before Mendenhall and Russell become 1-2. As of right now he's proven he's one of the best in the league.


Pappy

Ot ohhh...you just opened up that can of worms again. :D

papillon
07-11-2008, 11:51 PM
Very soon, Mendenhall and Russell will be punishing opposing defenses and beating them into submission late in games. Our own two-headed monster.

Maybe. I don't dismiss Parker as easily as some. He'll have to prove to me that he isn't one of the best backs in this league before Mendenhall and Russell become 1-2. As of right now he's proven he's one of the best in the league.


Pappy

Ot ohhh...you just opened up that can of worms again. :D

:stirpot

Pappy

Shawn
07-12-2008, 12:02 AM
Very soon, Mendenhall and Russell will be punishing opposing defenses and beating them into submission late in games. Our own two-headed monster.

Maybe. I don't dismiss Parker as easily as some. He'll have to prove to me that he isn't one of the best backs in this league before Mendenhall and Russell become 1-2. As of right now he's proven he's one of the best in the league.


Pappy

Ot ohhh...you just opened up that can of worms again. :D

:stirpot

Pappy

:lol:

Troublemaker. :D

stlrz d
07-12-2008, 11:01 AM
Very soon, Mendenhall and Russell will be punishing opposing defenses and beating them into submission late in games. Our own two-headed monster.

Maybe. I don't dismiss Parker as easily as some. He'll have to prove to me that he isn't one of the best backs in this league before Mendenhall and Russell become 1-2. As of right now he's proven he's one of the best in the league.


Pappy

I agree with you.

Shawn
07-12-2008, 12:04 PM
Very soon, Mendenhall and Russell will be punishing opposing defenses and beating them into submission late in games. Our own two-headed monster.

Maybe. I don't dismiss Parker as easily as some. He'll have to prove to me that he isn't one of the best backs in this league before Mendenhall and Russell become 1-2. As of right now he's proven he's one of the best in the league.


Pappy

I agree with you.

Then that DEFINATELY means Pappy is wrong. ;)

:lol:

fordfixer
07-12-2008, 03:50 PM
Very soon, Mendenhall and Russell will be punishing opposing defenses and beating them into submission late in games. Our own two-headed monster.

Maybe. I don't dismiss Parker as easily as some. He'll have to prove to me that he isn't one of the best backs in this league before Mendenhall and Russell become 1-2. As of right now he's proven he's one of the best in the league.


Pappy

I agree with you.

Then that DEFINATELY means Pappy is wrong. ;)

:lol:
:lol: :lol:

papillon
07-12-2008, 09:53 PM
Very soon, Mendenhall and Russell will be punishing opposing defenses and beating them into submission late in games. Our own two-headed monster.

Maybe. I don't dismiss Parker as easily as some. He'll have to prove to me that he isn't one of the best backs in this league before Mendenhall and Russell become 1-2. As of right now he's proven he's one of the best in the league.


Pappy

I agree with you.

Then that DEFINATELY means Pappy is wrong. ;)

:lol:

The words Pappy and wrong just don't belong in the same declarative sentence. :moon

Pappy

buckeyehoppy
07-12-2008, 10:18 PM
Pappy, I give you some of this :Boobs (That's what she said) :wink:

Now that's wrong...kinda, sorta. :Clap

Now for my :2c : Russell being in the Black and Gold is a nice problem to have if he isn't getting playing time. That means the RBs will be generally healthy. I would expect Russell to get more touches and take the kind of role that Fu did behind The Bus. I would think that he could have upwards of between 80 and 100 carries this season, assuming everything is going well.

BIG FAN
07-12-2008, 10:20 PM
As I am aware there are a lot of Russell pimps. (Not that there's anything wrong with that), he just seems to me unproven at this point. To tell you the truth, he also appears like more flashes than flame . If he is so good why did we not see him produce at critical times last year when we needed someone to step in? (See Davenport, N.)
I will leave the answer to all the self-professed experts, pundits and pimps. I for one think he is not all that, until he shows it in the big league.
Sorry, but I am not convinced yet about this guy, crazy abilities aside.
Sure hope I'm wrong, and he does turn out to be all that, but I cant help but think there must be a reason why you only hear hid his name called mostly on a message board instead of on the field.

Shawn
07-12-2008, 11:27 PM
As I am aware there are a lot of Russell pimps. (Not that there's anything wrong with that), he just seems to me unproven at this point. To tell you the truth, he also appears like more flashes than flame . If he is so good why did we not see him produce at critical times last year when we needed someone to step in? (See Davenport, N.)
I will leave the answer to all the self-professed experts, pundits and pimps. I for one think he is not all that, until he shows it in the big league.
Sorry, but I am not convinced yet about this guy, crazy abilities aside.
Sure hope I'm wrong, and he does turn out to be all that, but I cant help but think there must be a reason why you only hear hid his name called mostly on a message board instead of on the field.

In order to produce he will need to get more than 7 carries. Take it up with Tomlin or Ariens. :2c

BIG FAN
07-13-2008, 12:00 AM
As I am aware there are a lot of Russell pimps. (Not that there's anything wrong with that), he just seems to me unproven at this point. To tell you the truth, he also appears like more flashes than flame . If he is so good why did we not see him produce at critical times last year when we needed someone to step in? (See Davenport, N.)
I will leave the answer to all the self-professed experts, pundits and pimps. I for one think he is not all that, until he shows it in the big league.
Sorry, but I am not convinced yet about this guy, crazy abilities aside.
Sure hope I'm wrong, and he does turn out to be all that, but I cant help but think there must be a reason why you only hear hid his name called mostly on a message board instead of on the field.

In order to produce he will need to get more than 7 carries. Take it up with Tomlin or Ariens. :2c

More fun taking it up with you, and we all get a better response.
Dont take me wrong, I like the the guy and think he was under utilised as well, but do you really think someone who cant crack a starting spot is all that. I didnt' expect you to defer to the coaches by the way. Kinda smacks of avoiding a valid statement.

Shawn
07-13-2008, 12:29 AM
[quote="BIG FAN":1isj2j3c]As I am aware there are a lot of Russell pimps. (Not that there's anything wrong with that), he just seems to me unproven at this point. To tell you the truth, he also appears like more flashes than flame . If he is so good why did we not see him produce at critical times last year when we needed someone to step in? (See Davenport, N.)
I will leave the answer to all the self-professed experts, pundits and pimps. I for one think he is not all that, until he shows it in the big league.
Sorry, but I am not convinced yet about this guy, crazy abilities aside.
Sure hope I'm wrong, and he does turn out to be all that, but I cant help but think there must be a reason why you only hear hid his name called mostly on a message board instead of on the field.

In order to produce he will need to get more than 7 carries. Take it up with Tomlin or Ariens. :2c

More fun taking it up with you, and we all get a better response.
Dont take me wrong, I like the the guy and think he was under utilised as well, but do you really think someone who cant crack a starting spot is all that. I didnt' expect you to defer to the coaches by the way. Kinda smacks of avoiding a valid statement.[/quote:1isj2j3c]

I can't read their minds. I suppose they didn't think he was ready much like they didn't find a place for Timmons last season. My only point is...in order for people to insist that he produce during his rookie season (UDFA a year out of football) he would need to get some carries. Seven doesn't really count. What their actions have shown is that they believe Russell is better than Davenport (by the Davenport cut). So, if they believe that why didn't he get some PT last year? That will be a mystery for the ages.

RuthlessBurgher
07-13-2008, 01:29 PM
[quote="BIG FAN":3cww123i]As I am aware there are a lot of Russell pimps. (Not that there's anything wrong with that), he just seems to me unproven at this point. To tell you the truth, he also appears like more flashes than flame . If he is so good why did we not see him produce at critical times last year when we needed someone to step in? (See Davenport, N.)
I will leave the answer to all the self-professed experts, pundits and pimps. I for one think he is not all that, until he shows it in the big league.
Sorry, but I am not convinced yet about this guy, crazy abilities aside.
Sure hope I'm wrong, and he does turn out to be all that, but I cant help but think there must be a reason why you only hear hid his name called mostly on a message board instead of on the field.

In order to produce he will need to get more than 7 carries. Take it up with Tomlin or Ariens. :2c

More fun taking it up with you, and we all get a better response.
Dont take me wrong, I like the the guy and think he was under utilised as well, but do you really think someone who cant crack a starting spot is all that. I didnt' expect you to defer to the coaches by the way. Kinda smacks of avoiding a valid statement.

I can't read their minds. I suppose they didn't think he was ready much like they didn't find a place for Timmons last season. My only point is...in order for people to insist that he produce during his rookie season (UDFA a year out of football) he would need to get some carries. Seven doesn't really count. What their actions have shown is that they believe Russell is better than Davenport (by the Davenport cut). So, if they believe that why didn't he get some PT last year? That will be a mystery for the ages.[/quote:3cww123i]

He has more talent than Dookie, but the fact remains that he was woefully out of football shape when he was brought in as an UDFA. He had to make the typical rookie adjustment from college to NFL, but he had the additional obstacle of not having played organized football in over a year, so he was coming to the NFL after a full year by himself on the streets instead of on a football field somewhere. In spite of that, he still shined in his preseason action and improved throughout the year in practice. After a full offseason working out with the team, learning the playbook, etc. I look forward to seeing what this kid can do during this preseason. He still won't get much PT this season (barring injury) because he has Parker, Mendenhall, and Moore in front of him, but as a 4th option, he's a great option to keep in the stable.

AngryAsian
07-13-2008, 01:35 PM
The depth in the backfield is absolutely sick. I haven't been this excited about our offensive weaponry in quite a long while. It is this fact that keeps me hopeful about the OLine issues that hopefully will be worked to an acceptable level this year. I'm not asking for top ten in the NFL kind of play here, I'm talking middle of the road average. I'll take average because the talent we have in the skill positions is nasty. Of course we have our QB as well, who, IMO, will have PRO BOWL numbers.

BigLebowski
07-13-2008, 02:06 PM
SMG, you are right that 7 carries is not enough to judge Russell. He was stuck last year behind Najeh. Najeh proved he could not be a lead back if needed, so he was sent packing. I don't feel the release of Najeh has much to do with Russell as much as it does with Najeh's lack of talent.

Because of this Russell has a chance to prove his worth. But the problem is he can not get past 4th on the depth chart. Barring injury, Mendenall would have to show he needs time to adapt the NFL for Russell to see much PT. FWP is the starter and Moore is a prototypical 3rd down back. So it is more a numbers game than anything else for Russell.

I will say the Steelers must like him a lot in order for him to as stuck around as long as he has with so many other teams looking for RB help.

JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
07-14-2008, 08:46 AM
An UDFA who didn't see the field all year...On the active list because of injury...Playing in a game with playoff implications...Hmmm.
If he is so good...why wasn't he called upon?
OK...If you were the coach would you put this guy in a bad situation?
Would you put some work load on this guy if you didn't have to?
Smart coaching! The only reason Russell even got playing time was Davenport needed a breather. There would be very few SUCCESSFUL coaches that would have called Russell's number. The only way Russell would have got significant time last year after Parker went down is if Davenport had an injury. There is allot to be said for the confidence one has in his ability as well as knowing his assignments at the NFL level. An unsure player is a liability on the field to himself and the team. There is no way a kid who missed his last year of college football, went undrafted, fell out of football shape, working his way back into shape, learning an NFL offense, never playing a down of NFL regular season football....Would be called upon to make a large contribution during a playoff run. It was a good decision not to put allot on Russell's plate. He was there is Davenport went down...That was his role! There could have been many things that went wrong and crushed his development. He should consider himself lucky...I am sure he does! Now is the time he could move forward. A year to learn the offense and play at football shape. He couldn't have asked for a better situation to succeed with the hand he dealt himself!