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Steelers' Willie Parker likely to get short-yardage nod

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By Scott Brown
Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009
 

The Steelers will enter the season without a designated short-yardage/goal-line back.

But a simple connecting of the dots makes it clear that Willie Parker will get most of the carries in those situations.

"I think we'll go with the guy that's in the ball game unless he's dead tired then we'll put a fresh body in," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Monday when asked who will be the goal-line back.

Parker is the starting running back and second-year man Rashard Mendenhall is No. 2 but the pair won't split carries. Coach Mike Tomlin said that last week and Arians reiterated it yesterday after practice.

"Willie's the man," Arians said.

Parker rushed for 11 touchdowns in 2006 but has just seven rushing touchdowns the last two seasons combined.

The two-time Pro Bowler will have a couple of new lead blockers this season.

Frank Summers will play the position Carey Davis held the previous two seasons. Fellow rookie David Johnson will serve as an H-back much like Sean McHugh did in 2008.

The Steelers don't have a traditional fullback on their roster but Arians didn't sound concerned about how the 5-10, 240-pound Summers, who played running back at UNLV, will do leading blocking in front of Parker.

"Take the ball out of his hand and you've got a fullback-type body, and he showed good explosion," Arians said of Summers, who rushed for over 1,600 yards in two seasons at UNLV. "He's actually showed more explosion without the ball than with it. He got lit up a couple of times running down the sidelines in training camp but take the ball out of his hands and everyone jumps out of the way."

The battle for the No. 3 wide receiver spot behind starters Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes had not been resolved -- and probably won't be.

Arians said both Limas Sweed and rookie Mike Wallace will serve as the No. 3 wideout at times.

"There are different packages for both those guys so there's not really a third guy; it depends on the package that they're in right now," Arians said. "It gives us some flexibility that way."

The Steelers will likely open the season dressing just four wide receivers with teams only allowed to activate 45 players for games.

Arians said he "would doubt it right now" that veteran Shaun McDonald will dress for games.

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