By Teresa Varley
Running back Willie Parker normally jumps into his offseason conditioning with both feet not long after a season comes to a close.
But this year he took a different approach, allowing his body plenty of time to rest and heal after an injury-plagued season.
"Today was my first time running since the Super Bowl," said Parker following practice on Friday. "I took every day I could off. I rested my body to the utmost. I worked out every now and then because you know you have to keep the beach body. I lost weight but it's time to get back at it.
"I did no running. I just wanted to let my body heal. It was banged up. I had to do what was best for me. I just relaxed and let my body heal."
What Parker did plenty of was Pilates, trying the workout approach for the first time.
"I feel great," said Parker. "I have been doing a lot of Pilates stretching and things of that nature to get my body back. I am doing it to loosen up my body as a whole, my upper and lower body. It's kind of girly, but I am feeling good. I am headed towards the right direction."
Parker did not attend the Steelers first two OTA sessions, sparking many to wonder if it was related to his contract as he enters the final year of it. But Parker said he will be in Pittsburgh for the remainder of the OTA's and that the contract is not something that will be a distraction at all.
"That will take care of itself," said Parker of a new contract. "The Steelers gave me a chance and I am proud and happy to be a Steeler. That's all I can say about that. Whatever happens, happens. As of right now I am just getting ready for this season and have to make the best of it.
"I am coming off a bad season but it was a great season for the team. I just have to come out and get ready to play. It's not about holding out. I have to make the best decision and the best decision is to be around the team and help out the best way possible."
He said the reason for the disappointment last season and categorizing the season as bad was because of the injuries. He missed four games with a knee injury and a fifth hampered by a shoulder. As a result his numbers were down, finishing the regular season with 210 carries for 791 yards.
"I like to be on the field every single play," said Parker. "As far as individual goals, I didn't reach any of my goals. That's why I consider last year a fluke for me."
Parker is hoping that he truly does get the chance to stay on the field as much as possible, including being the team's short yardage and goal line back.
"I love scoring touchdowns," said Parker. "It puts a smile on my face. We can all compete for that job. Everybody is healthy. We can just go out there and may the best man win."
Safety Troy Polamalu is on the cover of the popular video game Madden 09, but he isn't impressed with the honor.
"I don't think it's a big deal," said Polamalu. "It's cool. Honestly I am pretty far removed from video games and those types of things. I played it a little bit growing up. But I am not a gamer."
It wasn't video games but instead pool that was a hot topic in the Steelers locker room as the newest addition to the area is a pool table.
The Steelers had a pool table in the locker room at the University of South Florida during the week they were in Tampa preparing for Super Bowl XLIII. When they returned for mini-camp head coach Mike Tomlin surprised them by adding one to the locker room at the practice facility.
"It's great," said Parker. We had one in Tampa and it kept guys from playing cards."