By Teresa Varley
Willie Parker knows the running game needs to get in gear. He doesn't need anyone to remind him that 36 total yards rushing for the team is not the Steelers way.
And he is willing to put the responsibility for getting it rolling firmly on his shoulders.
"It starts with me," said Parker. "Some people say it starts up front, I say it starts with me and making plays. I am a play maker, that's what I am here for and I just have to make some plays.
"We just have to get a hat on a hat. I have to read the holes and make some better runs."
Parker had 13 carries against the Titans, managing just 19 yards. Rashard Mendenhall had four carries for six yards and Mewelde Moore five for eight yards. Those aren't the kind of numbers expected from a team that prides themselves on running the ball.
"We would love to get our running game started because that's who we are," said wide receiver Hines Ward. "We pride ourselves on being a physical, tough-nosed football team through running it. We are trying to rectify it in practice. If we become a more balanced team I think we will be a more explosive team rather than coming out and just slinging the ball everywhere.
"We have two great running backs. We have Mendenhall and Willie Parker. We need to utilize those guys and get the running game rectified."
And the good news is it is something that can be fixed. There is no panic in the locker room, no reason to worry.
"That was one game, one missed opportunity where we could have taken more advantage of the run game but we didn't due to self-inflicted wounds," said tackle Max Starks. "We are very hopeful in the fact that we know what we did wrong and they are easy, correctible things. We will be ready for Chicago this week."
Safety Troy Polamalu suffered an MCL injury against the Titans and confirmed what was said after the game, that he will miss between three and six weeks. Polamalu, who wore a brace on the knee, said it was the best case scenario considering how serious an MCL injury can be.