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Parrish Cops New Chance to Punt in the Pros


Ken Parrish's NFL career is an example of how quickly hopes and dreams in this league can go south, and how quickly they can then turn back to the north again.

After being waived by the 49ers before getting to the 2007 regular season, then getting one late-season feeler that year from the Patriots, the East Stroudsburg punter decided it was time to get on with life.

"A lot of fluky things were going on that off-season," he said, "so I ended up saying I'm going to drop the cleats and pursue my major in college, sociology/criminal justice."

Parrish even became a police officer for eight or nine months with the Stroud Area Regional Police Department. The SARPD's captain: William Parrish, Ken's dad.

But calls from around the NFL still were filtering in. Finally, Parrish took another swing at the pro game, signing with his hometown Eagles, two hours to the south of East Stroudsburg, in May. Then he was waived on Aug. 8. Then after a tryout with the Packers, he was summoned two hours to the north of his home, to Cortland, N.Y., earlier this week and became the new competition for Reggie Hodges in the battle to punt for the Jets.

"I've been told I've got a lot of power to work with," Parrish said. "That was the big thing Philly was really good with me on. They really worked with me in using my power to pin people on the sideline, to be more directional and to make every punt count. That was definitely the one thing I'd been told by SF and the Eagles, that I've got a really big, strong leg if I could just use it right."

Head coach Rex Ryan and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff are definitely in search of a big, strong leg. On Sunday, Westhoff and coaches Kevin O'Dea and Ben Kotwica worked Parrish out on the soccer field in between Cortland Stadium and the grass field to the west of the stadium.

When the tryout was over, Westhoff shook Parrish's hand. Then right before the redhead was about to hit the shower, he was told he had a contract to sign if he wanted. With his signing, the Jets waived T.J. Conley, whom Westhoff scouted at Idaho last season.

I asked Parrish what he'd heard of the Jets' punting competition before he arrived on the scene.

"I hadn't heard anything too much," he said. "I know I'm here competing. My goal is to go out here and just do exactly what I can do and show them exactly why I can be an asset to this organization."

Parrish by the Numbers

For those of a statistical bent, Parrish had a 40.3-yard gross average in four seasons as ESU's punter, with that average improving to 42.5 for his junior and senior seasons only.

In his only preseason with San Francisco behind Andy Lee in 2007, Parrish had four punts for a 43.5-yard gross and a 39.8 net with a long of 50 yards and two of his four kicks being downed inside the 20.

Tuesday's Afternoon Washout

A week and a day after the Jets' first rained out practice of training camp, they lost this afternoon's special teams workout to another loud, bright, wet storm sweeping across central New York.

The Jets got in a little more than 15 minutes of punting work with Reggie Hodges and Parrish doing the booting. But an announcement to the small crowd in the Cortland Stadium stands at 4:30 warned of strong lightning in the area. The players' left the field, followed by a bolt and a loud metal thunk near the stadium and the light show was on.

Friday's Practice Closed

Friday is getaway day, when the Jets say thank you and goodbye to Cortland, the university and the town that has treated the Green & White so well at this year's training camp.

Just to keep fans informed, Friday morning's final practice of camp will be closed to the public. There are four more practices at camp that will be open to fans. Wednesday is the final two-a-day of camp with starting times of 8:20 a.m. and 4:10 p.m. Thursday will be a full-squad practice at 8:20 and a special teams session at 4:15.

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