Everybody in the Steelers organization knew - or at least hoped - this day would come.
When the Steelers selected running back Rashard Mendenhall with their first pick in the 2008 draft, an eventual showdown with Willie Parker for the starting job loomed at some point.
After Mendenhall's 165-yard, two-touchdown performance Sunday night, it appears that day is here. Because Parker missed the game with turf toe, the old sports question is raised again: Can a starter lose his job because of an injury?
The answer to that question is yes - in professional sports where players are paid to accept coaches' decisions. A good example is when rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won the Steelers' starting job when Tommy Maddox went down with an injury in 2004.
However, in this case, Parker, despite his being in the final year of his contract, should still be the starting running back, if healthy. He was anointed the starter in the preseason by coach Mike Tomlin and got off to a rocky start against two strong run defenses, but then he ran pretty well against the Bengals before getting hurt.
Mendenhall had problems fumbling the football last preseason, then suffered a season-ending injury in his first start. This year, he had plenty of opportunities to show his abilities in the exhibition games and didn't take advantage of them. He also had bad practice habits just one week before his breakout game.
Mendenhall was running with authority Sunday, but Parker also had some big games against the San Diego Chargers last season - with 350-pound nose tackle Jamal Williams in the lineup.
Mendenhall may be the back of the future for the Steelers, but Parker has performed well enough over the last five seasons to keep his job for now. It's actually an easy decision - start Parker but give Mendenhall more carries off the bench.
That is, if Parker is completely healthy.
Roethlisberger's decision to host WWE's Raw on Monday night was certainly within his rights as a member of the Steelers.
The timing, though, just wasn't right.
The announcement of his appearance came as the Steelers were 1-2, the show was on television at the same time Brett Favre was winning over football fans again, and the fact that he has a civil lawsuit hanging against him for an alleged sexual assault made the whole event not worth the negative publicity.
And with all the sexual innuendoes on Raw, you wonder if his accuser's lawyer wasn't sitting back smiling.
NFL Week No. 5
Game of the week: New England (3-1) at Denver (4-0), 4:15 p.m. Sunday (CBS)
Upset special: Houston (+5) at Arizona
Fantasy tip: Look for Buffalo's offense to get in gear against the Browns.
Buck Frank can be reached at email@example.com.