By Mike Prisuta
Sunday, August 27, 2006
When a quarterback leads the team in rushing in two of three preseason games, as Shane Boyd has for the Steelers, something's amiss.
But, to center Jeff Hartings, the true character of the Steelers' ground game has yet to be revealed.
"We're not where we want to be, that's for sure," Hartings said. "Individually, I'm not where I want to be, that's for sure. (The starters) haven't had a whole lot of playing time, and we're not going to get a lot of playing time this week, either.
"Miami practice week is going to be the most important week in a long time, considering coming off being Super Bowl champs and wanting to get off to a good start."
The Steelers conclude the preseason Thursday night against Carolina.
The regular season opens Sept. 7 against Miami.
The Steelers gained 108 yards and averaged 3.6 yards per carry on 30 rushing attempts in Friday night's 16-7 preseason loss in Philadelphia, but 39 of those yards were accounted for by Boyd.
Coach Bill Cowher said he was "a little concerned" afterward, and that "it's not just the backs" that have been responsible for the running game's sputters.
Those concerns don't extend to starting halfback Willie Parker, who was close to breaking a couple of long runs and to scoring a touchdown on a screen pass against the Eagles before slipping and falling to the turf.
Parker attributed his near misses to "unorthodox balance," to wearing the wrong cleats and to "trying to make too much happen, because I knew I was going to play just a little bit."