Thursday, September 6, 2007

Carey, Kreider, and Haynes

Like many Steelers fans, I was happy to hear that Pittsburgh's new coaching regime retained both veteran fullback Dan Kreider and the newbie, Carey Davis, who is acquiring a reputation for being the new "Mini-Bus". That is, Davis is seen as a somewhat smaller version of big, hard-hitting Jerome Bettis, the former Steeler who was the perennially dependable pile-driver for so many seasons in those short-yardage situations. Davis certainly looked good in pre-season, but so did Kreider, a 255-pound block of granite who is more of a blocking back than a running back, but who would efficiently neutralize the first opposing linebacker he encountered. Kreider is considered by many to be the best fullback in the NFL -- which is to say, the best of a dying breed.

For a while it looked like Kreider might be cut, with the Steelers' trendy new emphasis on a passing game, in favor of tight ends and wide receivers. He survived the cut, thank goodness. However, today, it was announced that he'd lost his starting position to Davis.

It's the nature of pro football. I suppose it makes more sense to keep two bona fide running threats on the field than one. Kreider is a sure-handed receiver, but is just an adequate runner by NFL standards. Davis may not block as well as Kreider, but his running skills look pretty good -- just ask those dazed-looking New Orleans Saints defensive players that he smashed into the dirt on a 58-yard scamper. He and Willie Parker together in the same backfield will not be anticipated with joy this season by the opposing teams.

But I'm sad for Kreider, who has contributed so much to this team's success over the years. I wish him the best, and hope he still has lots of football in him. He's a great player.

And while we're at it, let's salute running back Verron Haynes, who lost a lot more than his starting position. He wound up being the number six choice in a five-man backfield. Haynes performed well as Pittsburgh's third-down back and contributed heroically in the 2005 Steelers Super Bowl run. A class act and a gifted athlete, he was plagued with injuries for much of his career. Best wishes, Verron. I hope you heal up well and discover a bunch more seasons left in you, with a good team that needs your skills.

No comments: