HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 02: Wide receiver Preston Parker #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers takes the ball away from Jacques Reeves #35 of the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on September 2 2010 in Houston Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Having six WR's make the cut would have been a lot, but seven seems like too much. Preston Parker's name was the one that made me the most curious as to how he avoided getting cut. If there's anyone in jeopardy of being released once Talib returns from suspension, I believe Preston would near the top of the list.
Keeping Parker bewilders me for a number of reasons. First and most obviously, Tampa has six other receivers. It is very likely that only five or so will dress on Sundays since having all seven active would severely retract from the depth at other positions like linebacker and offensive line.
Apparently the coaching staff liked him enough to keep him, however Parker's performances in the pre-season left me thinking that he'd clear waivers and be maintained on the practice squad. Parker had only two catches throughout the summer exhibitions, and they were all against Houston with the starters spectating. He did have a few good returns though, with kickoffs in Jacksonville and punts in Miami. Against Kansas City he provided a forgettable performance.
Having Parker for his return abilities seems excessive. Tampa has three proven return men already. Michael Spurlock, Sammie Stroughter, and former pro bowler Clifton Smith have all made the roster, and their special team talents have shined in the regular season. Parker has only demonstrated that, occasionally, he can perform well in a couple scrimmages. At this point in time one must say that the three aforementioned men are better than Parker at what they do, and two of whom (especially Stroughter) contribute in the passing game as well. Clifton Smith is the most accomplished return man, however his contributions to the running game are suspect. I'm hoping Smith finds his place in the backfield and stops putting the ball on the ground in this ill fated experiment. Watching him fumble in his return against Jacksonville forced me to seriously consider snorting powdered glass in an attempt to numb the pain.
Now Tampa has four return men. I suppose you can postulate that Smith and Stroughter may not be fielding kicks as often with their running and catching the ball, respectively. Spurlock, if he proves productive, will fall into the same category as Sammie and perhaps be taken away from kicks more often as well. There simply doesn't seem to be a way where all of these players get enough touches to justify their roster spots.
Greg Olsen is also committed to running the ball more this season. In the same vein, Olsen likes to run two tight end sets, limiting the number of receivers that get opportunities to make catches as well as get onto the field. It's difficult to say that Parker has performed better than any other receiver at any point throughout the pre season, and MIke Williams stole all of the thunder in camp amongst the group. I'm not trying to completely discount Parker as a player as he obviously has ability, but I don't feel that he'll get an opportunity to demonstrate that he is worth his roster spot this season- barring injury.
The Bucs will be out a roster exemption after Talib returns, and unless there is a swath of injuries against Cleveland, or a safety buries himself with poor decisions, I imagine Parker gets released. Otherwise it seems someone who really offered potential like Corey Lynch, or a player with experience like Elbert Mack, may be stricken in favor of an unknown and a tad uninspiring prospect.
Stats courtesy of http://www.nfl.com/teams/tampabaybuccaneers/schedule?team=TB