With all the attention on the trio of Carlton Davis III, Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy-Bunting, you’d think their names are the ones we would hear most on a regular basis.
However, when it comes to Bucs training camp, they’ve all taken a back seat to undrafted free agent Parnell Motley.
The former Oklahoma Sooner stole the limelight the first day of training camp when he picked off Tom Brady early in practice. Just to show it wasn’t a fluke, Motley made sure to open up this Monday’s practice with some more big plays.
Y’all...undrafted free agent cornerback Parnell Motley just picked Tom Brady off AGAIN. His second pick off Brady in camp. He also had a really nice PBU working against Mike Evans yesterday in the end zone.— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) August 24, 2020
Oklahoma rookie Parnell Motley with a leaping INT of Tom Brady to Scotty Miller. Motley makes plays each day.— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) August 24, 2020
CB Parnell Motley comes up big on some textbook tight coverage with a sideline deep ball INT. Shrugged the whole thing off too, and got lined right back up.— Carmen Vitali (@CarmieV) August 24, 2020
First interception I’ve seen in two days, as rookie Parnell Motley picks off a Brady deep ball to Scotty Miller down the sideline. He continues to impress with splash plays.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) August 24, 2020
With all the questions surrounding Tampa Bay’s secondary, it’s important that the Bucs find the right group of guys heading into 2020. So far, Motley has been one of those guys.
“He keeps making plays every single day, he’s going to get a job,” head coach Bruce Arians told reporters during the post-practice Zoom conference. “He doesn’t drop any. When they throw it around him, he catches it.”
But no matter how encouraging all of this is, it’s important to remember that this is still training camp and there is still a long way to go. And at the end of the day, Motley’s chance of making the roster will come down to how effective he is on special teams.
“If he’s not starting then special teams takes precedent, it’s as simple as that,” Arians said. “If you’re a backup, you may be the second-best corner, but [if] the third-best is a good special teams player, he’s going to take your job.”
Cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross also did a good job of reminding everyone that even though Motley has shined, it’s still early. “He’s done a hell of a job, he has his hands on balls pretty much every day,” Ross said.
“He’s very coachable, quick out of his breaks. You still have to see him in game situations, though. You don’t want to get too high on him, but he’s doing what he needs to do right now. He’s practicing the right way and I’m pleased with him. He’s a pleasant surprise for us.”
Will Motley be on the final 53 come September 13? It’s still early, but all bets are off if the kid keeps making plays.