Speed Trap: Is This Fast Willie Parker's Last Year in Steel Town?

Andrew HohmanContributor ISeptember 11, 2009

PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 10:  Running back Willie Parker #39 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball in the second quarter of the NFL season opener against the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field on September 10, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Entering a contract year, Steelers halfback Willie Parker knows how important a strong performance this year could be to his chances of getting a contract extension this season.

However, "Fast" Willie didn't have the start he surely envisioned with a 13 carry, 19 yard performance (amounting to a meager 1.5 yards per carry average). Word in Pittsburgh has been that Parker may not be around another year, but Coach Tomlin had shown enough confidence in Willie to name him the team's featured back.

Unfortunately, outside of an eight yard run, Parker could never get anything going against a stout Titans defense, which brings up the question: is he the answer for the Steelers' backfield?

One game is surely not enough for a player to lose his job, especially when the halfback drafted to take his place, Rashard Mendenhall, rushed for six yards on four carries. If this becomes a lingering issue, however, the Steelers will look to address it sooner than later.

The answer could come in the form of current third down back, Mewelde Moore. Moore didn't look any better than Parker in the running game, with only eight yards on five carries, but he did have four catches for 28 yards and has shown flashes in the Steelers offense. Although he likely couldn't be a full time option, he may start to take plays away from Parker.

Another option the Steelers could look at is bringing up Isaac Redman off of the practice squad, giving the Steelers another option in short yardage situations. The Steelers putrid 3rd-and-1 offense didn't look any better against the Titans than it did when ranking dead last in the NFL last year.

If they do look in this direction, it would likely mean more carries being taken away from Parker, which could as evident an indicator as any that he could be nearing the end of his run as a Pittsburgh Steeler.