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Thread: Willie Parker's goal is to be like LaDainian Tomlinson, only better

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  1. #1
    2nd String Koopa's Avatar
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    Willie Parker's goal is to be like LaDainian Tomlinson, only better

    Now that he has shown he's no fluke, Willie Parker wants to reach for the stars and not the twinkle-twinkle little ones, either. He has set his sights on the North star of the NFL, the brightest of the bright.

    They don't come any more luminous than San Diego halfback LaDainian Tomlinson, the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player after he set league records with 31 touchdowns and 186 points last season.

    "I want to be better than L.T.," Parker proclaimed yesterday between the Steelers' double practices at Saint Vincent College. "L.T. can do all that stuff. He's like a role model to me. I look up to this guy. I just want to do what he does."

    The goals don't get much bigger, but then Parker backed up his 1,202-yard season in 2005 with 1,494 yards last season, third most in a franchise history that includes Franco Harris, John Henry Johnson and Jerome Bettis.

    He did so by carrying the ball 337 times, fourth most in Steelers history. Now Parker wants more, much more. He does not want to leave the playing field this year; he wants to not only be their starting halfback, he wants to stick around for third downs as well.

    "I want to do it all," Parker said. "I wouldn't be no running back if I say I want to come off the field in certain situations. I want to do all the situations."

    His coaches are inclined to let him do it, too. New coordinator Bruce Arians believes in running his best players until their tongues hang out, and Parker might be the odds-on favorite to take over the role as third-down back, something Tomlinson does rather well.

    "L.T.'s had a lot of touches, and if Willie has those kinds of touches, his yards could be the same," Arians said. "I like the fact he wants to be better. I don't ever want him on the bench unless he's tired."

    And, as new running backs coach Kirby Wilson noted, why take your best players out of the game?

    "Any time your best player is capable of playing [downs] one through three, you want him out there, especially with all the chips on the line."

    Tomlinson ran for 1,815 yards on 348 carries for the Chargers last season. He also caught 56 passes for 508 yards. Parker caught 31 passes for 222 yards, many on first down. His 16 touchdowns set a Steelers record but were barely half Tomlinson's total.

    Also, if Parker were the third-down back, he'd have more opportunities to run against defenses that are spread out to defend against the pass.

    "That's something I'm beginning to love, it's something I'm taking a lot of pride in right now," Parker said of the third-down role. "I want to be on that field catching screens on third down."

    Receiver Hines Ward talked to Parker before training camp and advised him to work on his blocking and receiving this summer. He did it in the spring and has continued it in Latrobe because you can't play on third downs if you can't block the blitz.

    "Willie Parker has a chance to be great because he's willing to identify what he needs to work on, and he's doing it," coach Mike Tomlin said. "He's doing a heck of a job."

    The L.T. goal is a lofty one, but Parker's story already has a can-you-top-this feel. Undrafted mostly because he was a backup at North Carolina, Parker played little as a rookie and then burst into the NFL consciousness in his second season, 2005, when he won the starting halfback job. He rushed for those 1,202 yards and then set a Super Bowl record by running 75 yards for a touchdown.

    A fluke, a scatback who only runs outside, a one-hit wonder -- Parker heard it all, then carved out his niche near the top of the Steelers' record book last season.

    Like Pittsburgh and its smoky image that won't go away, people thought of Parker as an outside runner. Even Tomlin, coaching the past six years in the NFC, thought that of him. He changed his mind after watching video of him from last season, saying he did not realize he was such a good runner inside.

    "Everybody looks at my speed and says he's just so fast. They look at me as an outside runner," Parker said. "I'm always going to carry that. But I'm always banging inside too. I'm going to get the yards whatever it takes."

    In fact, Parker prefers to run between the tackles.

    "I'd rather have the hole inside; you can spring them into a big play. Outside, you don't usually go too far."

    And, to be sure, Parker wants to go far, not so much to Tomlinson's level, but higher.

    "That's a long goal and a big one, but that's what drives him," Wilson said. "He wants to be considered in that category and on that level."

    i love to read that willie still hungry to be better, he'll never be on l.t.'s level but it's good that he thinks he can, because he'll get better trying to be the best player in the nfl and the best running back that i've ever seen play this game (of course i'm only 22, so older ppl here don't go crying about players from the 80s, 70s, and 60s, cause i don't care about them cause i wasn't alive or old enough to see them )
    "SA, it's more than a FEVER it's an ADDICTION" -BlacknGold Bleeder

  2. #2
    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
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    If you're going to aim, you might as well aim high. Willie has come so far since he was an undrafted rookie FA. He's a real success story and has worked very hard to get where he is today. He's still got things to learn and has many ways he can improve but overall he's done an amazing job in his young career. Im glad he's on our side !

  3. #3
    Banned Snake Champion
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    Great Post!! Glad to hear he is reaching for the BIG stars!!!

  4. #4
    Veteran DIESELMAN's Avatar
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    Brandenburg, Ky.
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    Funny thing about a man setting his goals high, if he wants it bad enough he can make and exceed them. Willie a UDFA, no one thought he would make it in the NFL, I bet he knew he would and he hasn't even realized his full potential yet. Go tear em up Willie!!!!!

    Willie Parker: 5'10" 209lbs.

    Last year was the only year FWP didn't have anyone stealing goal line carries. Average OL for the most part and his vision is getting better. New coaching staff that will use him to his strengths instead of plugging him into a system that doesn't really fit his style of running.

    First 2 years as a starter stats:

    592 carries 2696 yards 4.5 avg. 17 TD's
    51 rec 440 yards 8.6 avg. 1 TD.

    LT: 5'10" 221lbs.

    Ran behind a good OL his whole career and ran in a system that recognized his strengths and used them. Has never carried more then 350 times in a year except for his 2nd year (372)

    First 2 years as a starter stats:

    711 carries 2919 yards 4.1 avg. 24 TD's
    138 rec 856 yards 6.2 avg. 1 TD

    If you don’t stand behind our troops.....Please feel free to stand in front of them!!!

    "Give me a 6 pack, half hour of rest and lets go play them again....We can beat them."
    --Jack Lambert

    "They say that when you're the champs, everybody will try to beat you. Well, I'm glad we're the champs, so bring 'em on, bring 'em all on. If we die, we ain't gonna die running. It's gonna be a fight."
    --Joe Greene

  5. #5
    Ambridge's Avatar
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    I think Willie needs San Diego's O-line and TE's if he wants be more like LT.

  6. #6
    SteelerSal's Avatar
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    Meade County Kentucky
    I like Willie's desire to be great, BUT, I also like it when he keeps quiet and lets his play speak for itself.

    Thanks to Zachintosh66 for my awesome website banner!!

  7. #7
    Starter PsychoWard's Avatar
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    i love this post! it is great to see what he is setting high goals for himself! i love the the coaches are realizing his full potential and what him to be in there as much as he can be! i am really looking forward to watch willie this year i think the steelers organazation has some big plans for him!!!

  8. #8
    BlacknGold Bleeder's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    da Burgh
    He will never be LT, but he can definitely be FWP !! The line was terrible last year and he did well, if the line plays better and he's able to stay healthy then he can put up some bigger numbers !!

    BITE ME ICS!...Woodsonsgirl

  9. #9
    #1 Clown Hater SteelerNation's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    Austintown Ohio
    If he really put's his heart into it and his mind set at becomeing better then LT he can do it but our o-line better be better then last year and maybe 2 years from now he will be able to say he is stacked up with LT intill then i just love to read about how he has high hopes.

  10. #10
    AZ_Steeler's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
    51 rec 440 yards 8.6 avg. 1 TD.
    If Willie can get those touches on third down this stat will increase. He could be the dump off on third down and could be enough of a threat to cause defenses to give him more attention than normal which would free the Steeler running the fly to the end zone!

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