I've contended from the very begining that Willie Parker is a square peg in a round hole and isn't an every down back, nor is he a "Smashmouth Steeler Football" style of runner that has always been a staple of our franchise. He's a mere "change of pace" back that should compliment the "big bruiser" who can actually hit the correct hole and "break a tackle" ...
WOW, what a novel concept ... a running back who can run inside and break tackles ..... AMAZING!
and now our OL finally confirms my position .... I want EVERY ONE OF YOU who scoffed at my position as "hog wash" to read carefully what is being said here ... because what they're saying is "We want a big back that is decisive and hits the holes with AUTHORITY and can actually break a 2nd level tackle"
With Parker out, Steelers don't panic
By John Harris
Saturday, December 22, 2007
ST. LOUIS -- Steelers guard Kendall Simmons said the performance of Najeh Davenport in Thursday's win against the Rams evoked memories of another big back who did most of his damage running inside.
"It kind of reminded me of the old days of just running straight ahead and pounding on people," Simmons said after Davenport rushed for 123 yards as an emergency replacement for Willie Parker.
Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis was a powerful inside runner. Davenport isn't in Bettis' class as a between-the-tackles thumper, but he's the next best thing for a team that has no choice but to make him its new feature back.
"That's what we're going to have to do from here on out," Simmons said.
Coach Mike Tomlin was pleased with how the Steelers remained true to their game plan of establishing the run. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called Davenport's number a season-high 24 times after Parker suffered a broken right leg on his first carry.
"We didn't change our personality," Tomlin said.
All told, the Steelers called 37 running plays for 166 yards.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger attempted only 20 passes, completing 16 for 261 yards, three touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
"B.A. called a great game. We were loving those inside runs," center Sean Mahan said. "We like the big guys pounding it up in there, running real hard. It inspires us to block harder."
Tomlin believes that Davenport, rookie fullback Carey Davis and rookie Gary Russell, who was inactive for the game, have the ability to push the pile and keep the Steelers' ground game respectable.
"We pride ourselves in playing our football and knowing that guys are capable of stepping in," Tomlin said. "The answer is inside our building. Some weren't even suited up tonight. We'll get them ready."
Arians agreed that the Steelers have workable options at running back.
"The first two guys (Davenport and Davis) are more than capable," Arians said. "Gary Russell is a young kid that we're excited about. He's going to get his opportunity."
Davenport was Mr. Excitement against St. Louis. He ran inside and outside, scored a touchdown and averaged 5.1 yards per carry. He also caught two passes for 44 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown in which he ran through an opponent's tackle and scored easily.
With only 71 carries entering the St. Louis game, Davenport has fresh legs for the Steelers' stretch run.
"I'm a big back with a lot of speed," Davenport said. "Whatever B.A. calls, we've just got to make it work."
Simmons said the Steelers will miss Parker's ability to get outside and turn the corner.
"It definitely takes that element of speed away from our offense," Simmons said. "Najeh's got the speed to get outside, but he does a great job of breaking tackles."
Davenport broke off runs of 18, 16, 14 and 10 yards against the Rams. He didn't come out of the game on third down as Parker did, remaining in the game plan as a legitimate receiving threat. He also scored on a 1-yard run, retaining the same role he held when Parker was healthy as the team's goal-line specialist.
"It's been drilled in us that we've got a good, solid locker room and don't really need to go outside (for help)," Davenport said. "If somebody goes down, somebody else steps up."