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Can Summers Be the Short-Yardage Back the Steelers Need?

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Gary Russell is gone, and someone is going to have to carry the load on those third-and-one plays for the Steelers in 2009. Pro Football Weekly reports that player could be recent draft pick Frank Summers, who was the teams 5th round pick from UNLV. Here’s the report from the site:

Though some are projecting rookie RB Frank Summers to be the Steelers’ short-yardage specialist, Summers is not making any assumptions about his role on the club. “Any area I can help, whether it’s short yardage, catching the ball or special teams, I’m going to do all I can,” Summers, a fifth-round pick from UNLV, told PFW this week. Summers has proven he can contribute in all of those areas. In two seasons at UNLV, Summers racked up 1,668 yards rushing and 14 rushing touchdowns and caught 36 passes for 402 yards and six touchdowns. He has also shown an affinity for playing special teams.

He even kicked off in high school. The 5-10, 230-pound Summers told PFW he’s also comfortable blocking, something he was not primarily asked to do in college. However, he played fullback at the Texas vs. the Nation college all-star game in January, and with at least three running backs (Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore) likely to be ahead of him on the depth chart, contributing as a blocker would help his cause in making the roster. For now, Summers’ focus is on studying the Steelers’ playbook and learning the club’s terminology.

One of his primary goals is learning his pass-protection responsibilities, which are more wide-ranging than the ones he had in college because of the increased complexity of pro defenses.

I like the sound of Summers coming in and being that brusing back that the team really has not had since some guy named Bettis walked away after winning a ring in 2005. If Mendenhall can’t get it done in short yardage situations, maybe Summers can.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Bob Kinsey

    May 15, 2009 at 9:38 am

    The Steelers should let Parker “RUN,RUN,RUN” in all situations. If he needs a break moore and
    possibly Mendenhall could give hem a breather.
    Why,after what Parker has accomplished-he looks
    good on short yardage,goal line,and all other
    situations-why don’t the Steelers just let him
    RUN,RUN,AND RUN? Everyone seems to have these
    cliche’s-offensive line,running back,third
    receiver,etcc……NONSENSE,the Steelers did
    good in 2008.let’s go for it again…..

  2. Mark Simpson

    May 15, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Sorry but Willie is not the answer for everything. When he has good average yards-per-carry it will be 10 carries for a two yard average, and then one for 30. Tough to move the chains and control the clock that way. He’s good at running outside and in the open field, but in traffic he usually goes down at first contact and often misses holes.

    Plus, when one back carries the load all year they are usually worn down at the end of the year. Even Bettis was often beat down in the post season. If you can’t win in the playoffs, it doesn’t matter how good you were in week seven.

    It makes a lot more sense to platoon that position and have fresh legs and multiple options come January.

  3. David

    May 15, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I WOULD REALLY LOVE TO SEE THE STEELERS GET BACK TO A SMASH MOUTH RUN ORIENTED OFFENSE. WE NEED A RUNNING BACK. SINCE WE ARE SEEING ON AGAIN OFF AGAIN RETIREMENTS,,,, CAN SOMEONE GO AND TALK TO JEROME 36 BETTIS. I MISS THE EXCITEMENT HE BRINGS TO THE FIELD. YOU JUST GOTTA LOVE THIS GUY……

  4. Scott Greenwell

    May 16, 2009 at 1:32 am

    Mr. Simpson hit the nail on the head. I’d love to see another back in the mix. We would have more third and three situations as opposed to third and sevens. Parker could be just as effective with only 10 touches a game because he is not wearing down any defenses and he still could produce that one break-away that ups his average.

  5. Ant M@C

    May 16, 2009 at 6:57 am

    Im on the same page as Mark Simpson…To echoe his thoughts ’bout “Fast WIllie” in a different way. We run,run,run,smash-mouth in yo face from ding 2 dong..He can’t carry the load by himself,The Bus was a good compliment. Mendenhall can tote that rock and the sleeper of the ’04 fantasy draft, the 12th pick in the 2nd round, “Mewelde Moore Baby!!!” He can flat out play. He was a Geeeeee!! man at the Vikings, rackin up rushing yards/reception yards, he also bailed us out all season at the rb position.. Mark my words willie “wheels” is going to be challenged this summer and might get his job took…BTW, look up Frank Summers on YOUTUBE..Sit back, listen to the beat and enjoy..He finds the holes, he catches out the backfield and makes contact before the defender does..Yeah Baby!! He’s a DOGG!!!!

  6. kevin

    May 16, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Why not try a runningback by committee and have Parker return kick-offs? You then give him open space for his speed and shifting abilities. Just a thought, though I know it will never happen.

  7. kevin

    May 16, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Why not try a runningback by committee and have Parker return kick-offs? You then give him open space for his speed and shifting abilities. Just a thought, though I know it will never happen. Go Steelers!

  8. Zach

    May 27, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I think the Steelers are treating the running back situation the right way. In today’s NFL you can’t have too many! Willie Parker is great when he’s 100%, which isn’t going to be often if he’s getting 350 to 400 carries per year. If Rashard Mendenhall can perform to the level we hope he can, I see him being a 10-15 carry per game guy. With Mewelde Moore as the third down back and Frank Summers as an occasional short yardage guy, I see the perfect running back situation for the Steelers!

    With that said, Frank Summers has yet to take a hand off in the NFL. I agree with “Ant M@C” his youtube videos are promising, but lets wait before we anoint him the next Jerome Bettis. I’ll be more than happy if he’s the next Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala.

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