While the Steelers get set for camp in about 5 weeks, one big question will be what back gets the task of spelling feature running back Willie Parker. The choices seem to be between Najeh Davenport, Verron Haynes and Kevan Barlow. So far I would have to say based on these choices that Barlow is heads and tails above Davenport and Haynes. At 6-foo-1, 234 pounds, Barlow seems to be a better change of pace back that the Steelers looked for all last season when they signed Davenport.
Najeh showed glimpses of being a quality backup, but then there were a lot of times when the team simply needed a yard, and Davenport couldn’t get the job done. As for Haynes, a solid third-down back, but coming off the injury, you don’t really know what you are going to get with him. That’s why I say give Barlow a shot. He started three games last year with the Jets, and while his yards per carry was awful at 2.8 per rush, I think if he sees the ball in his hands a bit more, that number will easily go up. Don’t forget this guy was a 1,000 yard rusher back in 2003.
So give Barlow a shot. He can’t be much worse than Davenport was last year, and if he stumbles, then let it be between Haynes and Davenport. Hopefully the team won’t need many 3rd-and-1 conversions this season, as those last inches may be tough to come by if this threesome can’t get the job done.