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PSU_dropout43
06-17-2009, 12:11 AM
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 29795.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_629795.html)

Parker sprinting to stay ahead
by Scott Brown

Following a recent Steelers practice, Willie Parker stayed on the field after many of his teammates had retired to the showers.

He ran a series of sprints and at times had a sled with weights on it strapped to his bulging shoulders. After the extra work that is the rule rather than the exception for Parker, the sixth-year veteran said something that may bode well for a running game that proved to be rather pedestrian last season.

"I'm getting that speed back like I had two or three years ago," Parker said while still trying to catch his breath. "I'm faster than I've been."

The Steelers are counting on a healthy Parker he missed fives games in 2008 with knee and shoulder problems to bolster a running attack that ranked 23rd in the NFL last season with just under 106 yards per game.

And after averaging a career-low 3.8 yards per carry Parker is returning to his roots in that he is carrying himself as the player who broke into the NFL as an undrafted free agent not the player who has made a pair of Pro Bowls and nearly won a rushing title in 2007.

"That's my mindset, man, just going back to my first year and doing the things I used to do," Parker said.

"He wants to be better so he's working a little harder than he did last year, and I don't blame the guy," Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson said. "He's got a lot to prove in his mind, and he's on a mission to accomplish that so my hat's off to him."

One thing the 5-foot-10, 209-pounder wants to prove is that he is not entering the downside of his career, which can often be the case with 28-year-old running backs who have absorbed a lot of hits as Parker has.

In that sense, it is a critical time for Parker and not just because he is entering the final year of his contract. Rashard Mendenhall, the Steelers' first-round draft pick in 2008, has fully recovered from a shoulder injury that prematurely ended his rookie season.

The Steelers are hoping Mendenhall can make the kind of jump that 2007 first-round pick Lawrence Timmons did in his second season. Coach Mike Tomlin is noncommittal, however, when asked how Mendenhall will factor into the running game this season.

"I'm just simply asking him to have the savvy and awareness of a second-year player," Tomlin said. "How he plays will determine his role."

There is little doubt that Mendenhall will push Parker if he stays healthy, something the latter said he welcomes.

"I love to compete," Parker said, "and Rashard's getting it out of me."

That was evident a couple weeks ago when rain forced the Steelers to practice indoors. Parker stayed afterwards to run. He was still working out even after some of his teammates had already changed and left the team's South Side facility.

Parker didn't run from the time the Steelers won the Super Bowl at the beginning of February until they resumed practicing in late April. It's apparent, however, that he hardly neglected his conditioning.

And that he has since made up for lost time.

Parker's stomach is flatter than a chess board, and he boasts a ripped upper body as well.

While the Steelers are finished with practice until the start of training camp at the end of July, Parker said he plans to push himself even harder while he is away.

His training will include regular sessions in his native North Carolina and Florida so he can incorporate heat and humidity into the workouts.

Tomlin said last week the top priority for the Steelers players should be returning for camp in good shape. One player he will not have to worry about in that regard is Parker.

"I love the work ethic," Wilson said of Parker, "and I think he sets a great example not only just for the young guys, but his teammates overall because he's putting it in."

Oviedo
06-17-2009, 08:20 AM
You have to like Parker's determination and character. He is the type of class player that the Steelers always seem to find.

Unfortunately I think if Mendy has a strong season them this could be the last for FWP. Especially if Summers can show anything. We have a really deep backfield which is great particularly when you saw what happened to the Broncos last year losing 8-10 RBs in a seson. That is insane.

phillyesq
06-17-2009, 09:51 AM
You have to like Parker's determination and character. He is the type of class player that the Steelers always seem to find.

Unfortunately I think if Mendy has a strong season them this could be the last for FWP. Especially if Summers can show anything. We have a really deep backfield which is great particularly when you saw what happened to the Broncos last year losing 8-10 RBs in a seson. That is insane.

I completely agree about Parker -- gotta love the character and work ethic.

I'd love to see the way for the Steelers to keep both Parker and Mendenhall beyond this season. You need two good running backs in the NFL, and having two starting-caliber backs is almost more the rule now than the exception.

MeetJoeGreene
06-17-2009, 11:18 AM
we should trade FWP now while we can still get good value for him.

that way, we can probably also keep Carey Davis on our roster.

:lol:

Oracle
06-17-2009, 11:53 AM
let me begin by saying, i like willie parker as a person and a player. i met him after a game in 2007 and he was very friendly, very humble, and very willing to accomodate photos and autographs. i acknowledge that he is very fast, even when compared with other top nfl running backs, willie's pure speed is right there with the best of the best.

willie's problem is his change of direction and vision, specifically the way he uses his blockers. willie typically (not always but typically) has one speed... fast. you could have 4.1 40 speed, if you run straight into a 350 pound lineman, you're going down. nfl LB's and DL's are professional tacklers. they understand running lanes, blocking schemes, and angles of pursuit. willie is a hard guy to catch but an easy guy to tackle.

i think what willie should be practicing is his cut back explosion into running lanes and catching the ball in the flat. seriously, i don't claim to be an expert on nfl schemes but wouldn't it seem to be a good idea to dump the ball to willie in the flat once in a while and let an OLB try to tackle him one on one in the open field. come on, bruce.

if i were willie i would also work on my pass protection blocking and blitz recognition. he has more natural speed than about anybody you'll find but that's just not enough in today's nfl. he needs to watch 100 hours of film on brian westbrook and do his best to imitate him.

SteelHead
06-17-2009, 03:28 PM
let me begin by saying, i like willie parker as a person and a player. i met him after a game in 2007 and he was very friendly, very humble, and very willing to accomodate photos and autographs. i acknowledge that he is very fast, even when compared with other top nfl running backs, willie's pure speed is right there with the best of the best.

willie's problem is his change of direction and vision, specifically the way he uses his blockers. willie typically (not always but typically) has one speed... fast. you could have 4.1 40 speed, if you run straight into a 350 pound lineman, you're going down. nfl LB's and DL's are professional tacklers. they understand running lanes, blocking schemes, and angles of pursuit. willie is a hard guy to catch but an easy guy to tackle.

i think what willie should be practicing is his cut back explosion into running lanes and catching the ball in the flat. seriously, i don't claim to be an expert on nfl schemes but wouldn't it seem to be a good idea to dump the ball to willie in the flat once in a while and let an OLB try to tackle him one on one in the open field. come on, bruce.

if i were willie i would also work on my pass protection blocking and blitz recognition. he has more natural speed than about anybody you'll find but that's just not enough in today's nfl. he needs to watch 100 hours of film on brian westbrook and do his best to imitate him.


Good post. I've said it for a while now and I'll say it again , his biggest problem is body control / balance. He has none. How many times have you seen him stumble or struggle to make a cut that you see average backs make. His feet are horrible and his stride is soooooooo long sometimes. All that said when he is 100% healthy he is still a very good running back just on the merit of his speed and toughness , couple that with the fact that you just have to love the guy , the attitude and his story , it all equals a great Steeler. Unfortunately a great Steeler who's time is coming to an end.

Let the era of MENDENHALL begin !!!

jj28west
06-17-2009, 08:22 PM
let me begin by saying, i like willie parker as a person and a player. i met him after a game in 2007 and he was very friendly, very humble, and very willing to accomodate photos and autographs. i acknowledge that he is very fast, even when compared with other top nfl running backs, willie's pure speed is right there with the best of the best.

willie's problem is his change of direction and vision, specifically the way he uses his blockers. willie typically (not always but typically) has one speed... fast. you could have 4.1 40 speed, if you run straight into a 350 pound lineman, you're going down. nfl LB's and DL's are professional tacklers. they understand running lanes, blocking schemes, and angles of pursuit. willie is a hard guy to catch but an easy guy to tackle.

i think what willie should be practicing is his cut back explosion into running lanes and catching the ball in the flat. seriously, i don't claim to be an expert on nfl schemes but wouldn't it seem to be a good idea to dump the ball to willie in the flat once in a while and let an OLB try to tackle him one on one in the open field. come on, bruce.

if i were willie i would also work on my pass protection blocking and blitz recognition. he has more natural speed than about anybody you'll find but that's just not enough in today's nfl. he needs to watch 100 hours of film on brian westbrook and do his best to imitate him.

Great post,

I also dream of how Parker can be isolated on a linebacker like how Westbrook gets utlized. Then when you analyze this closer Westbrook has quick decision making capability, great hands, quickness and (as you pointed out) vision. This is not a knock on Willie but the vision and split second decision making can be just as valuable as the raw straight line speed.

Slapstick
06-18-2009, 10:46 AM
Willie needs to get back to his form in 2005...

...when he was sharing the load with another RB...

He carried the ball on average about 17 times per game...and had close to 5 YpC...

He was also a lot heathier...

ikestops85
06-18-2009, 11:25 AM
Willie needs to get back to his form in 2005...

...when he was sharing the load with another RB...

He carried the ball on average about 17 times per game...and had close to 5 YpC...

He was also a lot heathier...

I agree but he also had a much better O-line. I think one of the differences between 2005 and last season was the Bus. Jerome was constantly in Willie's ear giving him advice back in the day and I think that helped tremedously. That's one of the reasons I think Jerome would make a good coach.

MeetJoeGreene
06-18-2009, 11:48 AM
Willie needs to get back to his form in 2005...

...when he was sharing the load with another RB...

He carried the ball on average about 17 times per game...and had close to 5 YpC...

He was also a lot heathier...

I agree but he also had a much better O-line. I think one of the differences between 2005 and last season was the Bus. Jerome was constantly in Willie's ear giving him advice back in the day and I think that helped tremedously. That's one of the reasons I think Jerome would make a good coach.

I think the Bus would make a good POSITION Coach (i.e. RB coach)... I don't know if he has all of the attributes to be a Coordinator or HC.... but who knows.

NorthCoast
06-18-2009, 08:13 PM
Let him follow a good lead blocker and he does fine. When he needs to find the hole on his own, it's a whole different story. Agree with the other posts, it's not his speed that is the problem, it's finding creases in the line to bust through.