I wrote an article the other day about the state of the Steelers receivers after this year. I've decided to expand that to the state of the rest of the team, starting with running backs.
Fast Willie Parker.
Fast Willie broke into Steelers fans hearts in 2004 as an undrafted free agent. Although he did not get a lot of playing time.
In the final game of the season, against the Buffalo Bills, the only game which he started (Bill Cowher was resting Jerome Bettis and Deuce Staley) Parker rushed for 102 yards, including one rush for 58 yards up the left sideline.
In 2005, Fast Willie grabbed the reigns of the starter. When Jerome Bettis and Deuce Staley were both injured in the pre-season, Parker took off, never to look back.
Parker rushed for just over 1,200 yards, finishing sixth all time for a Steelers. That puts him in pretty good company.
In the Super Bowl that year, Parker started off the second half with a 75 yard run, the longest play from scrimmage in the history of the game, to that point.
When Rashard Mendenhall fell to the Steelers with the 23rd pick in the 2008 draft, the Steelers had to take him. Many people believed that he would eventually be Parkers replacement.
After a broken shoulder in week four against the Baltimore Ravens, Mendenhall was placed on injured reserve, ending his rookie season four games in.
Kevin Colbert later said, Mendenhall recovered quickly enough that he could have been active in the playoffs, but not knowing how he would recover, the Steelers couldn't wait to see.
Moore was a surprise last year, filling in very nicely while Parker and Mendenhall were injured. He started four games in the middle of the season and played the role of third down back perfectly.
After signing with the Steelers from the Minnesota Vikings, Moore has adapted very well to the third down back.
Frank "The Tank" Summers.
The rookie from UNLV is coming to the Steelers with the goal of spending his rookie season as a special teams animal and a short-yardage battering ram.
In his freshman season at UNLV, "Tank" tried to leap over the pile and was stuck in mid air for no gain. When he got to the sideline, his coach told him, you have to know who you are, and you are not a jumper.
Summers took that as it was and has not tried to leap over a pile since. Now he puts his shoulder down and plows straight ahead.
The course of the future for our running back situation will be decided over the 2009 season. If Willie Parker can stay healthy, and have a good year, he very likely will be resigned.
Mike Tomlin is probably hoping that Mendenhall will take over the starters role this year. If Mendenhall can show he has the ability to, he will become the starter, and Parker will be used as a change of pace guy.
Mewelde Moore is in a position where he can play his heart out, but his future will not be determined by him. If Willie Parker is resigned, Moore will be let go.
The citizens of Steelers Nation are hoping that Summers is going to be the next Jerome Bettis. He has the size, and seems to have the quick feet, but will that carry over to the NFL as it was in college?
If it does, everyone mentioned above better watch out. Another Bettis could spell the end of the line for everyone else.