Turf toe a real pain for Parker
It's an injury that led to the end of Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert's Hall of Fame career following the 1984 season.
Lambert was known for being tough as nails, but he couldn't overcome turf toe.
"Turf toe isn't something to play with,'' said two-time Pro Bowl running back Willie Parker, who missed two games this season and was limited against Cleveland last week because of the injury.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Rashard Mendenhall, who started the past three games, will be the feature back until further notice.
Turf toe is considered among the most debilitating injuries for a running back because it impairs his ability to plant his foot, cut and run at top speed.
Asked to describe a comparable injury to turf toe, Parker replied: "A quarterback with a shoulder problem trying to throw."
Lambert, who suffered turf toe while tackling Houston Oilers running back Earl Campbell, missed half of the 1984 season, leading to his retirement.
Another NFL standout, Deion Sanders, underwent surgery for turf toe after the 1998 season and was able to play several more years. More recently, San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson suffered turf toe in the 2008 opener. He played all 16 games but rushed for less than 1,200 yards for the first time in his career.
Turf toe is the spraining or tearing of the ligaments and tendons at the base of the big toe. It usually occurs when the toe is jammed forcibly into the ground. In most cases, the toe is bent backward too far, causing significant pain and swelling.
"To walk normally, you need to have 70 degrees range of motion in your toe. With this injury, you don't have that,'' said Vonda Wright, an orthopedic surgeon at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine. "Perfect runner form starts in your big toe. You can't expect someone who runs for a living to do that expertly if the very starting point of that is (injured).''
Parker said he suffered the injury in the second half of the Steelers' 23-20 loss at Cincinnati on Sept. 27, just before Ben Roethlisberger's 1-yard touchdown run with 3:04 remaining in the third quarter. Parker rushed for a season-high 93 yards on 25 carries against the Bengals, and he also caught a 27-yard touchdown pass.
"It didn't really affect me until after the game,'' Parker said. "During the game, it was hurt. But it was something I could tolerate.''
In his first action since the injury, Parker carried seven times for 26 yards and lost a fumble against Cleveland. He also had one reception for nine yards.
"I'm starting to plant, cut and do all that stuff because it's starting to heal up,'' Parker said following Thursday's practice. "It's still swollen, but it's getting a lot better. This week is the best that it's been.''
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.