By Teresa Varley
Game balls are not handed out with reckless abandon by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. They have to be earned for effort and results that take place on the field.
Mewelde Moore was presented a game ball after the Steelers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 38-10. And he definitely earned it.
"He's become a locker room favorite and we make no bones about why we feel the way do about each other. It's based on deeds," said Tomlin. "This guy is delivering time and time again with his legs, with his hands. He's just doing a nice job. He's a pro; he prepares himself. He's doing a nice job for us."
Moore signed with the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent this offseason and quickly filled the role of third down back. But with injuries at running back Moore has been asked to step up, starting against the Jaguars and Bengals.
After the Jaguars game, when he gained 99 yards, he talked about having to still prove himself to his teammates. His performance against the Bengals seemed to seal the deal as far as respect goes.
"It's awesome to come here, be the new guy, step in, study hard, work hard and see your hard work paying off," said Moore. "With my teammates, I'm just working hard to get respect and constantly trying to put together positive yards, impact plays and explosive plays that help our team win."
Against the Bengals he had 20 carries for 120 yards and two rushing touchdowns, while catching five passes out of the backfield for 14 yards and a touchdown.
And while he was being rewarded with the game ball, he was dishing out the credit to others for his performance.
"I want to thank the offensive line, and the wide receivers for blocking downfield," said Moore. "We've got good camaraderie right now and chemistry.
"Max (Starks) did a great job stepping in for Marvel (Smith). You can see the type of chemistry that we have on our offense with guys being nicked up and going down, and guys stepping up to take their place. It's just one of those things that we want to keep our heads focused on doing all the details — being focused on the small things that are going to help us continue to win football games."
Moore knows that his time in the spotlight might be limited. He is well aware that as soon as Parker is deemed healthy and ready to go that he will take a back seat to him.
"I signed here to do a job, and that's an 'in-case-of,'" said Moore, referring to being the starter if an injury to Parker happened. "Right now, we are in a 'in-case-of' type of situation, and I know that when Willie is healthy and ready to roll, I'm going to go back to doing the things that are asked of me, and that's just the way it is."