Monday, August 13, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Willie Parker itches to return to the flow of the Steelers' offense and it could happen this week. Or not.
Parker resumed practice Thursday when thunderstorms forced the Steelers indoors on the South Side. He says he's ready to take his position at halfback Saturday in Washington against the Redskins in the team's third preseason game. He's just not sure if the coaches are ready to put him in.
"I'm going to give it a little more [today]," Parker said. "I'm all right now."
Parker was held out for two weeks of practices at Saint Vincent College after coach Mike Tomlin said he had slight swelling and pain in his left knee.
Parker said the swelling isn't the issue as much as something else. He was vague on what that might be.
"That wasn't really the main thing. It was something else. That wasn't the main thing, inflammation. I was just hurting a little bit. I needed some rest, basically."
Parker said he does not think he'll need to have surgery on his knee after the season.
Parker rushed for 1,494 yards last season, third most in franchise history. His 337 carries were fourth most by a Steelers back. He and the coaches talked about using him even more this season, particularly on third downs. Parker said he not only wanted to be like LaDainian Tomlinson, the league MVP last season, but even better.
Then came the injury and everything has been on hold.
On one hand, Parker said the way he feels now "there's a good chance I'll play" against the Redskins. However, he believes the coaches might hold him back another game, with two left in the preseason after Saturday.
"I don't think they'll play me next week, in my opinion from talking to them and stuff," Parker said.
Sitting out the preseason did not hurt Tomlinson last year. He did not play in an exhibition game after a slight neck injury in early August. He then carried 31 times in the regular-season opener for 131 yards on his way to 1,815 yards rushing last season.
Parker said he does not feel a real need to play in the preseason, but that it's frustrating to watch teammates play while he's dressed in street clothes on the sideline.
"The only reason why I need to is because my teammates are out there, they're busting their [behinds], they're out there playing. That's why I need to be out there playing.
"I know that I'm no one-man army. I'm a team player and I know that's my goal. If they're playing, I'm playing."
In his absence, Parker talked highly of undrafted rookie tailback Gary Russell and fullback-tailback Carey Davis, who is trying to make it with his fifth NFL team.
"Y'all seen them, the boys are out there playing hard," Parker said. "Especially Russell -- Carey too."
Russell and Davis have said Parker is an inspiration to them. Parker said he hasn't forgotten what it was like to try to make the team's roster after he was an undrafted rookie in 2004.
"I'm competing too; I'm always going to have that mind-set," Parker said. "When I stop that, that's when I'm going to be gone. I know how it is and I have to keep that same mentality."
-- C Chukky Okobi
appeared to be OK as he walked the sideline during the game Saturday night. Okobi's lower back was injured in practice Wednesday. ... The Steelers' afternoon practice, from 3-5 p.m., is open to the public.