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Willie Parker Outlook: Fast & Furious or Free Willy? Career Receiving Stats Shed Light

It's a travesty I was unable to attend any of the OTAs or minicamps this off-season. Damn weddings. Last year when Ken and I attended, we could clearly see Fred Davis was going to be a breakout player...and, well, that was about all we saw. Making predictions for this camp is a lot more difficult not having that first-hand knowledge of seeing the players run around. However, one of my friends is a coach at Chapel Hill and told me Willie Parker has been has been a workout warrior down there, running sprints, lifting, and running a 4.4 - 40. Sounds like a perfect fit for this squad. Over twitter yesterday when several people said they'd rather have Westbrook than Willie, I made the bold prediction Willie would make this squad.

Rich Tandler from CSNWashington chimed in that Willie did not look good in minicamps. I emailed him for further explanation (since it's tough to tell things without pads), and he replied,

"I just thought he looked slow. No pop through the hole. I also think that Shanny is going to want to keep one young back (probably Torain) so there isn’t room for all three. He certainly could change my mind if he shows something resembling a burst in camp. But, from what I can tell so far, Fast Willie isn’t very fast. We will see."

Eesh. That doesn' sound good. Willie does have a $3 million deal this year, but it's laced with incentives, so he's very expendable. I think it's safe to say Larry will make this squad, so who's left? I still think Willie makes this squad, solely since he's had good seasons catching the ball out of the back-field:

Look at that average yardage per reception the years he caught 18 or more balls. That's up there with Portis and Westbrook's averages in their best years. The counter argument is Fast Willie has seen his time in the body shop. Broken fibula in 2007, knee injury in 2008, and turf toe at the start of 2009. Mendenhall of course shined so Willie, who was in a contract year, was let go. Ryan Torain is a favorite of many people to win the 3rd spot, but he's coming off a knee injury from the 2008-9 season and did not see any action last season...not even on a practice squad.

Willie Parker Career Stats
Season Team Rushing Receiving Fumbles
G GS Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD FUM Lost
2009 Pittsburgh Steelers 14 3 98 389 4.0 34 0 6 64 10.7 27T 1 2 1
2008 Pittsburgh Steelers 11 11 210 791 3.8 34T 5 3 13 4.3 5 0 -- --
2007 Pittsburgh Steelers 15 15 321 1,316 4.1 32 2 23 164 7.1 22 0 4 3
2006 Pittsburgh Steelers 16 16 337 1,494 4.4 76 13 31 222 7.2 25T 3 7 5
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers 15 15 255 1,202 4.7 80T 4 18 218 12.1 48 1 4 0
2004 Pittsburgh Steelers 8 0 32 186 5.8 58 0 3 16 5.3 12 0 -- --
TOTAL 1,253 5,378 4.3 80 24 84 697 8.3 48 5 17 9