This year the Chargers have found their Diamond in the rough in Eric Parker, and Marty Shottenheimer is Jafar who is using the magic of this diamond to beat defenses and makes some amazing catches.
This years sleeper (Diamond in the rough) for the San Diego Chargers has to be Eric Parker, a rookie free agent signed after the Houston Texans released him on July 13th, 6’0 175’ with 4.51 40 speed WR out of Tennessee. He uses his body to shield defenders, and go’s after those non-direct passes, he is not known for his break away speed but has found ways of getting open this season and Brees has been rewarded about 90 percent of the time he has passed to him.
"He's just a fun guy to throw it to," Brees said. "He gets the ball in his hands, and he tries to make something happen with it. He's had a couple of good runs after the catch, where it didn't seem like he had anything. He'll turn it up and get a first down, or 20 extra yards."
Ask him about his first catch and you can feel the giddiness about him.
"I wasn't expecting to get out there, but when I got out there, I was expecting to get the ball, said parker who was subbing for Conway, in overtime against San Francisco. "That's how you run your route. Then when the ball was in the air, I was saying, 'Just catch it, just catch it.' It felt great to get that first catch under my belt.''
Eric Parker started 20 of 45 games in his career at Tennessee, 64 Receptions for 829 yards. His best year came as a sophomore where he caught 30 passes for 411 yards; he was also used as a punt Returner where he had 41 punts for 387 yards and 1 touchdown.
Eric Parker started his year off on the Chargers Practice squad was released and then resigned, and was assigned to the Chargers Active Roster on October 15, 2002. He was inactive for a few games, but now has 14 catches for 210 yards with an average of 15 yards per catch, and 0 touchdowns on the season. Not bad for a kid who did not even start out on the opening day roster for the Chargers.
"I was just so glad to be here. My goal was to make the squad somehow, whether it was the practice squad or the main roster."
I personally got a chance to go and see a few of the practices and a couple of the preseason games and was amazed with this kids athletic ability, as one of the many free agent finds that John Butler has came up with this year, I think he has found one that is a super star in the making. He has the potential to be a Peerless Price type receiver of the Buffalo Bills, He can get high for the ball, and he has good Yac (yards after the catch) ability. In his one game as a starter for Curtis Conway this year he had a big day with 96 yards receiving. He was under utilized the following week in the Buffalo game but came back strong last week in the loss against KC.
"I go out and practice hard on every play, like Tim Dwight and Curtis Conway do," Parker said. "They compete.
"If you do the little things right, then the big things will take care of themselves."
Just like Drew Brees I get excited when I see Eric Parker come into a game. I always think ok we are going to get a first down or this will be the time that he breaks it for a touchdown. Just like every diamond it needs to be polished before it can shine, he of course has made many rookie mistakes, one costing Drew Brees an interception, but with as many mistakes he has had many more shining moments. John Butler has truly found this year’s diamond in the rough and if used correctly over the coming years he has the potential to turn into a shining Jewel.
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