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Panthers pick Parker
"We're getting our share of Oregon Ducks," head coach John Fox said after Tuesday's practice. "He's got speed. He's got quickness. He's returned the ball before as well as being a receiver. We've been nicked up a little bit at that spot and we'll have a little look."
Parker signed with the Broncos in April after four years with the Chiefs. For whatever reason, Parker became expendable in Denver and was released on Monday as the Broncos trimmed their roster down to 75. The Panthers, needing speed at the WR position, brought in Parker immediately.
Fox insists that Parker has a shot to make the 53-man roster next week.
"We probably wouldn't have brought him in if we didn't think so," Fox said. "We'll bring him in, take a look and see how he adapts."
Parker didn't shine in KC, and he obviously didn't impress the staff in Denver, so why are the Panthers taking a look at him?
With Steve Smith serving a two game suspension, Ryne Robinson a few weeks away from returning with a knee injury and Jason Carter being placed on IR, the Panthers suddenly find themselves in the need of speed at receiver. Parker has the speed the Panthers are looking for, and could possibly return kicks. The Panthers are in search of a punt returner that can also play another position. Could Parker fit that bill?
"There would be that possibility, yes," said Fox.
The Panthers travel to Pittsburgh tomorrow for their game against the Steelers on Thursday night. There is a possibility Parker could play, at least in a limited role.
"We had a walk-through practice today," Fox said. "We'll have a shortened version tomorrow so we'll just see what he can absorb and take it from there."
The team didn't have a full practice today due to the rain from what was once Tropical Storm Fay.
"I think any coach would rather be out there practicing," said Fox. "You get your timing better, the spacing on the field - you lose all that. You get a lot of the mental things and you're hoping maybe some of that timing gets outweighed by some of their freshness."
Even if Parker does play Thursday, he won't get many reps with the starters. Typically in the fourth preseason game the starters only play one series. Still, any on-field reps Parker gets will help him get acclimated with the Panthers' playbook.
Don't let Parker's lack of success so far taint your opinion of him. He was the team's fourth-round pick in 2004 and endured a coaching staff change in 2006 when Herm Edwards took over for Dick Vermeil. There also wasn't a lot of ball to go around with guys like Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson and Tony Gonzales getting their touches. There's been QB uncertainty as well, with the Chiefs starting Trent Green, Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle for extended stints during Parker's time there. And Parker had good success in the collegiate ranks too, where he set a single-season record with 77 receptions for 1,088 yards and 7 touchdowns as a senior. Remember, it took Jake Delhomme a few seasons to find the right place in the NFL, too.
If Parker can get the playbook down in the next two weeks, he might have found a home.
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