Parker hopes to put injury trouble behind him next season
Learning curve hasn’t gone as quickly as planned for the former Dino, a third overall pick in 2010
“Sometimes, you do kinda wonder,” admitted the second year receiver, as the Calgary Stampeders packed up for another winter after coming up one win short. “I remember getting home after I broke my foot, the second injury, and thinking ‘Man! You have got to be KIDDING?!’
“But sometimes things, well, they just don’t go in your favour. This year was just one of the those years where things didn’t work out. Clearly I wasn’t meant to be on the field.
“But it never gets to the point where I’m so frustrated I want to give up. I just think it motivates me to come back even stronger next year.”
The third overall pick in the 2010 Canadian college draft (and the Stamps traded to move up and snare him), the onus is on Parker to take a spot. He’s entering the option year of his contract, and with six total catches over two seasons hasn’t exactly taken the world by storm. But there have been extenuating circumstances.
A concussion suffered during training camp and two later ankle issues (never a boon to a receiver) cut drastically into his development time this season.
“It’s been tough,” acknowledged Parker. “I was in and out of the lineup for various reasons, be it injury or personnel changes. Obviously I wanted to be a bigger part of the offence.
“I’m going to change a few things in this off-season and hopefully going into next year I’ll be able to stay on the field a bit more. Some of the stuff I’m going to work on, more balance stuff, little things, that I think will be beneficial. My ankles, for instance. I had two ankle and foot injuries this year, something I’ve never experienced before.”
In the players’ exit meetings, receivers coach Pete Costanza told Parker not to become discouraged.
“When I talked to him this morning, he was obviously upset with the injuries and the way things worked out, but like I told Parks, those things are part of football. They happen. He needs to continue to work on what got him here. Being in town this off-season, there’ll be chances for he and I to sit down and watch some tape.
“I just said to him this morning ‘Remember what we talked about when you got drafted.’ He’s one of the youngest players on the team. He’s obviously got a lot of talent and he’s not a small receiver, by any means. He has to keep with it, keeping working and hopefully he stays healthy.”
For Parker, 2013 shapes up as vital. Make-or-break might be a stretch, but certainly he needs to make significant strides in being the player the Stampeders envisioned in 2010, the one they saw so much potential in watching him star for the U of C Dinos.
Part of that, the health part, is largely beyond his control.
“I think there’s always pressure, going into any season,” he reasoned. “There’s one thing about this industry, your job’s never really safe, right? When you add some of those other things in there, the option year, the fact that I was the third pick and I really haven’t had a chance to prove myself, I guess there will be a bit more.
“For me, most of the pressure I’m going to put on myself is this off-season and being as ready as I possibly can to make next year different from this one.
“I know I have the tools to do what I need to, what I want to, it’s just a matter of staying on the field.”
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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