“It’s probably taken a little longer than the first time because in this situation I didn’t have to rush,” said Parrish in reference to his wrist injury in his first NFL season in 2005. “In my rookie year I did it in training camp and I was trying to get back. This situation I can spend more time on getting it fully, fully healed. So it’ll probably be better than before.”
In his sixth NFL season Roscoe Parrish was having the most productive year of his career. By the midway point of the 2010 campaign he was on his way to doubling his career highs in single-season receptions and receiving yards. But three quarters of the way through his most productive game of the season, Parrish landed awkwardly on his wrist while trying to break his fall after a catch leading to a dislocation.
“It was tough,” he said. “I kind of knew it, but didn’t want to believe it at the time. It was kind of like, ‘That didn’t just happen.’”
But happen it did after eight games. Despite already posting a single-season best in receiving yardage (400) Parrish found the remainder of the 2010 season more difficult to take than all the trials he went through the previous year when he was benched for five weeks.
“The season I was having is what made it more difficult,” he said. “As time went on I just felt like everything happens for a reason. At least I was able to show what I could do as a wide receiver. It could’ve been worse. I could’ve not have played at all and then it happened and that would’ve been even harder. You never know what happens in this business, but at least I was able to show my talent at wide receiver.”
Mired in a punt return role and little more his first five NFL seasons, the arrival of Chan Gailey brought a breath of fresh air to Parrish career.
“I called him up and told him I knew things had not been the way that he wanted them to be,” recalled Gailey. “I said, ‘Look, you come here and work.’ My M.O. through the years has been if a guy can make plays, we’ll help him be successful, and he believed me. And he came in and worked and it worked out for him.”
Parrish believes Gailey was the first head coach he’s had in the league that gave him the balance of an offseason to show he could be a playmaker in his offensive scheme.
“I’m not going to say I was never given an opportunity because I had an opportunity here and an opportunity there,” said Parrish of his previous years with the Bills. “Before this year the opportunity never came the way coach Gailey presented it. It was a package. Five plays. This year it was more of a situation where I was involved.”
Afforded snaps in the practice setting Parrish quickly proved to be a matchup problem in one-on-one situations and quickly put a stranglehold on the slot receiver role. He also established a good working relationship with
“Unfortunately whatever happened last year happened,” said Fitzpatrick. “He didn’t get a lot of time, didn’t play much but he really played well this year. Roscoe is a guy I want to get the ball in his hands and find different ways to do it. He definitely played well this past year.
Fitzpatrick said you could tell from the offseason work that Parrish put in that he was poised to be a bigger factor in their offense.
“I think from the confidence that Chan gave him just by saying, ‘Look, you’re going to be one of our go-to guys this year.’ And the way he responded to that. He did a nice job for us.”
With all of Parrish’s success when given the opportunity one would think he would be even more encouraged heading into next season, but the diminutive receiver doesn’t believe in guarantees.
“Me personally I’m the type of guy that I always set big goals for myself and I’m never complacent because with my size throughout my career I’ve always been criticized about this and that,” he said. “With a good opportunity for me right now, I’m not going to be complacent with it. I’m going to continue to work hard and move forward and get better coming into this season and challenge myself.”
Parrish believes some of his personal goals are finally possible knowing how much Gailey likes to make use of four wide sets offensively. That could be crucial to his future knowing he’s entering the last year of his contract. He knows Gailey’s approach at any position is simple. You make plays and he’ll find ways to help you make more.
“Hey, we’re about production,” said Gailey. “If a guy can produce, you’re going to try and find ways to get him the football and that’s what we’re always trying to do. We just keep working to try to find those guys that can make plays and get it in their hands as much as we can.”
“Our previous coach he was more of a prototype guy at every position,” said Parrish. “You had to be 6’1” to play receiver. You had to be a certain size to play running back. With this guy it doesn’t matter. You prove yourself and you can do it and know your job and your assignment, you’ll get your opportunity. “
Parrish is confident he’ll be full go come March and ready for whatever the offseason schedule proves to be.
“I’m just working on getting it strengthened up which should be no problem because the guy I was working with down in Miami was doing a pretty good job,” said Parrish of his wrist. “I just don’t want to rush. I’ll be good to go in plenty of time.”