It looks like the Pittsburgh Steelers could be missing starting running back Willie Parker and four others when they play New England this week. The Steelers at 8-3 are in first-place in the AFC North, while the New England Patriots at 7-4 presently occupy second-place in the AFC East. Pittsburgh is one game ahead of the Baltimore Ravens, and New England is one game behind the division leading New York Jets.
Parker’s absence could be a major factor in this contest. This season when the Steelers have been without Parker, the team has had a tough time maintaining any type of ground game. The running back missed four games earlier this season with a sprained knee and another game due to a shoulder mishap. He’s presently listed as probable due to an inflamed knee. Last Thursday, Parker had 14 carries, gaining just 37 yards. The Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals in that game 27-10.
The injury to Parker is especially worrisome for Pittsburgh as the team heads into four very tough games versus the Pats, Cowboys, Ravens and Titans. Without their starting running back, the team is 2-3.
Parker’s problems started last season when he broke his right leg during the season. At that time, he was leading the NFL in rushing. Most agree that a solid running game is key to this team’s success.