By Teresa Varley
The weight room at the Steelers practice facility was unusually quiet, with just a few coaches and a trainer getting a late afternoon workout in.
But after a second glance, a familiar face was working up a sweat, pounding away on the weights after everyone else had called it a day.
Running back Willie Parker, who had surprised some when he missed the first two days of OTA's, has been a regular at the practice facility since the team's mini-camp despite the fact that players didn't need to be there until OTA's resumed today.
"I just wanted to start getting back in shape and get going to get ready for next season," said Parker of why he put in the extra time.
Parker spent part of his days on the field, working on the football aspect of things and catching passes from running backs coach Kirby Wilson.
"I really focused on catching a lot of balls and being comfortable in the passing game so I can help Ben (Roethlisberger) out on the check downs, checking it to the backs," said Parker. "Right now I am focusing on the football stuff, catching balls, running, getting in shape."
And if getting in shape means staying around long after the locker room has cleared out, Parker has no problem with that.
"I put in a full day's work. I look at it as a 9-5 job," said Parker. "I come over and spend a whole day here. I try to get benefits in the weight room or playing football. I am running, conditioning and things like that."
The main motivation for Parker's extra time is to make sure he enters the 2009 season in great shape and healthy. The last thing he wants is a repeat of the 2008 season when he missed five games because of injuries.
"I have to get that back," said Parker. "I haven't been healthy in my point of view in two years. I need to get healthy and get through the season healthy. Injuries nagged me and kept from accomplishing my goals. If I can stay healthy I can accomplish anything.
"Injuries are real frustrating. I am pretty sure anyone would say the same thing. Injuries are real frustrating."