Power or Speed? What's Next for the Steelers Running Game?

Brian LumpkinContributor IMay 12, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Running back Willie Parker #39 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs the ball against Bertrand Berry #92 of the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Steelers won 27-23.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

There's no doubt that some changes are coming in the running game for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The question is; where is that change going to take them?

With the acquisition of Frank "the Tank" Summers and the return of Rashard Mendenhall, I believe that the change will be dramatic.

Willie Parker has been a very good rusher for the Steelers, but Mike Tomlin is a believer in the power back, or could we be following a more balanced running game? These are questions I haven't been able to figure out on my own.

Mendenhall is a forceful power back who likes to crash through the middle and drag the defense on a journey for positive yardage. 

Summers seems to be a huge Bettis style back who will punish the line and wear them down, also racking up positive yardage. 

Parker on the other hand is a fast and slippery back who prefers to juke a defenseman out of his Nikes and burn the coverage for, once again, positive yardage.

So where does that leave the running game? Is Parker still going to be the man behind Roethlisberger at the start of the season?

I think there is a transition coming.  Parker's days could be numbered if he can't manage to be the same explosive talent, and more importantly stay healthy. 

Mendenhall is a more than qualified back, that would have been a major part of the rushing attack last season had he not broken his collarbone in a vicious hit by Ray Lewis.

Frank Summers has been highly regarded as a goal line situation back who can pound it in for very short yardage.  The Steelers definitely had problems with that last season.

Could we see Parker starting, Mendenhall being the third down back, and Summers the goal-line hero?  It's very possible, but we could also be in for a torch passing, saying goodbye to fast Willie and hello to power Rashard.