Parker's departure from Steelers hurts depth
The opportunity to start elsewhere has led to the departure of the Steelers' third all-time leading rusher and leaves the team with depth issues at running back.
Willie Parker, who had been the Steelers' feature back before losing his starting job last season, signed a one-year contract with the Washington Redskins Friday.
A two-time Pro Bowler with the Steelers, Parker rushed for 5,378 yards from 2004 to 2009, but the emergence of Rashard Mendenhall last season made him expendable.
Parker joins a crowded backfield in Washington, which also has former Pro Bowlers in Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson. But Parker's agent said he will be given the chance to start for the Redskins.
"You know Willie's work ethic, so don't be surprised if he ends up as a starter," Doug Hendrickson, Parker's agent, said via email yesterday.
The loss of Parker leaves the Steelers with only two experienced running back on their roster, Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore. It could open up an opportunity for young running backs such as Frank Summers and Isaac Redman.
Coach Mike Tomlin said last week that the Steelers are comfortable with Moore, who has been the team's third-down back, filling the No. 2 role behind Mendenhall. The Steelers are expected to add at least one more running back to their roster, either through free agency or the NFL Draft, which will be held later this month.
"If we're able to acquire a running back that fits us, we're going to be open to that," Tomlin said at the recent NFL owners' meetings.
Parker leaves Pittsburgh as one of the Steelers' most unlikely success stories. He signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2004 after playing sparingly at the University of North Carolina and made the team as a rookie.
Parker burst onto the scene in 2005 with 1,202 rushing yards. His 75-yard touchdown run in Super Bowl XL is still the longest in the game's history.
In 2007, Parker was leading the NFL in rushing (1,316) before breaking his right leg in the next to last game of the season.
He battled injuries the past two seasons, and Mendenhall supplanted Parker as the starter in 2009, rushing for 1,108 yards.
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.
- Starkey: Century mark beckons for Ben
- Steelers’ defense on pace for fewest sacks in 16-game season
- Steelers notebook: No-huddle gets limited use vs. Texans
- Nearing season’s midpoint, Steelers still have issues to sort out
- Steelers’ Pouncey, brother won’t be charged in July fracas
- Steelers film session: Watt kept under control
- Steelers’ defense rebounds after shaky 1st quarter, forces Texans into mistakes
- Steelers lookahead: Colts QB Luck becoming one of NFL’s elite
- Steelers use 3 late first-half TDs to stun Texans
- Steelers looking for Spence to step up game at inside linebacker
- For all but 2 minutes vs. Steelers, Texans played ‘pretty good game’