Every summer leading up to training camp Buffalobills.com asks 25 of the most pressing questions facing the team as they make their final preparations for the upcoming regular season. With a new regime and practices at St. John Fisher fast approaching, here is the latest installment as we closely examine some of the answers the Buffalo Bills have to come up with between July 28th and Sept. 12th.
He's been biding his time for the better part of the last five seasons. Last season proved to be the most difficult. All but removed from the team's offensive approach and later benched for the better part of five games despite being the best punt returner in the league in 2008 and 2009 in terms of average, Roscoe Parrish was unsure of what his future held in Buffalo.
But now blessed with an innovative offensive mind in head coach Chan Gailey, the ultra-elusive and super explosive receiver just might have a chance to shine in Buffalo's offense.
Parrish logged a career low three receptions in 2009, two of which came in the season's last three games. It was a humbling setback for a proud player that has the potential to make big things happen any time he touches the ball.
"One of the main things I had to overcome last year was to just not get down on myself," Parrish said. I just continued to work hard during the season last year and just prayed and hoped the best would come. This offseason with Chan Gailey and a new coaching staff, it just made everything better."
The diminutive receiver has a fresh new outlook on the game he loves and genuinely believes he'll be given every opportunity in training camp to show that he's capable of making a difference on offense in the passing game.
Through the course of the spring, Parrish was his typical consistent self in the practice setting. He caught almost everything thrown his way, and was extremely difficult to cover one-on-one. With a head coach in Gailey, that has a keen eye for exploiting mismatches, it stands to reason that the veteran play caller will have some kind of package in his playbook for a player of Parrish's talents.
"Roscoe has shown up big time this offseason," said Ryan Fitzpatrick. "He's a guy that knows he's going to get an opportunity just like everybody else."
However, Parrish, who has heard that speculation, is not taking anything for granted.
"I just have to carry it on the field and there's still a lot to learn," Parrish said. "Just don't make the same mistakes the next day. It's all about progression and everything is going good. New style, new attitude. We all have to get on the same page and get it rolling."
Through the spring practices Parrish lined up most of the time in the slot, a spot he figures to man now as the second most tenured receiver in Buffalo's receiving corps.
"I look around and there's no Josh (Reed) and no other guys out here," said Parrish. "I played with Peerless (Price) and Josh and I was always one of the 'in between guys' and being that I'm an older guy now I have to watch everything I do because you're always being evaluated and I've just got to lead by example right now."
Parrish is studying all the receiver positions in the event that he's needed in a different capacity at times, but playing the slot with the option to release inside or outside seems to best suit the receiver who gains separation as fast as anyone in the league.
Knowing Gailey's history of running plays out of a myriad of alignments, it wouldn't be surprising to see Parrish on the move before the snap this season, an approach often used by Parrish's college coaches at the University of Miami to free him up quickly for big plays.
On an offense that lacked collective speed, Buffalo appears to now have its fair share with Parrish expected to have a bigger role alongside the likes of Lee Evans, Shawn Nelson and top pick C.J. Spiller. What the end result will be for Parrish is anyone's guess, but the receiver has faith that his head coach will give him enough chances to make big things happen when Buffalo's offense is on the field this fall.
"It's a blessing to have coach Gailey," said Parrish. "I just have to continue to work hard myself. He's the kind of coach that gets the ball in playmakers hands, so I have to do what I need to do and that's get better each day and take advantage of all my opportunities."