The days when NFL players like Chuck Bednarik could stay on the field for all 60 minutes are long gone. But there are still a handful of players who manage to contribute on both offense and defense, and the latest is Bucs rookie Preston Parker, who started the season as a receiver but is finishing it as a safety.
“I took some reps at safety the last three weeks and that was fun. Then I got a little quarterback pressure in the game,” Parker said of pressuring Lions quarterback Drew Stanton on Sunday, per PewterReport.com. “It felt good just to get out there and go for it. I was always aggressive playing football coming up through Pop Warner. I’ve always played defense so I’m familiar with it. I’ve always played safety and did that in high school.”
Parker isn’t the only Bucs rookie to play both ways this season; Erik Lorig made the team as a defensive end but has switched to fullback. And other teams (including the Chiefs, who have gotten offensive touchdowns from defensive players Mike Vrabel and Shaun Smith) have also taken advantage of players who can go both ways.
But it’s still rare. Bucs coach Raheem Morris says it’s all about putting talented players where ever they can help the team.
“The young man is talented as all get out,” Morris said of Parker. “He came in here and kind of forced his will on the team and made the team. He made it as a receiver. He’s a talented young man. . . . When a guy creates value for you like Preston Parker does, it’s special.”