Life in the NFL can be fickle.
But for Jets S Will Parks, who was cut at the end of training camp, added back to the practice squad in August and elevated to the 53-man roster on Wednesday, is a survivor.
"My upbringing helps me out a lot," Parks said. "You know, coming from the city of Philadelphia, it helps you out a lot as far as that survival mode."
Parks, who says his upbringing in Germantown, a neighborhood in Northwest Philly instilled a toughness to endure the harsh business of the NFL, graduated and earned a scholarship to play at the University of Arizona. A sixth-round pick of the Broncos in the 2016 NFL Draft, Parks has appeared in 76 games and made 20 starts with five different teams. His background has put his professional upheaval in perspective.
"I grew up in seeing people go through things. Seeing death right in front of me and things of that sort," Parks said. "So, this kind of stuff with the football world kind of does not faze me."
After four seasons collegiately with the Wildcats, Parks was helped with the professional transition in Denver by the likes of T.J. Ward, Bradley Roby, Aqib Talib and Justin Simmons. He spent four years with the Broncos, appearing in 62 games and starting 15, registering 104 tackles, 13 PDs, 4 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles.
"There's something from each and every single last one of those people's games that I like to feel like I got in my game," Parks said. "I learned a lot from all the guys in my room. When I am in a meeting room, I kind of write down not just my mistakes, but I write everybody else's mistakes, so I can learn from them, too."
See the top photos from Wednesday's practice leading up to the first road game of the 2022 season.
Dating back to March of 2020, Parks had stints with his hometown Eagles, the Chiefs, the 49ers, the Dolphins and the Jets. After being released by the Kansas City on Aug. 23, 2021, Parks joined the 49ers practice squad in November, was signed by the Dolphins a few weeks later and then released in December. The Jets claimed Parks off waivers on Dec. 21st and he re-signed with the club on March 10th.
"Last year was kind of, pretty much, the rocky year for me," Parks said. "Bouncing around and stuff like that. But it seems like I kind of found a home here. … I love the locker room. I love the guys in here and a lot of direction of the program."
Head coach Robert Saleh said on Wednesday that starting S Jordan Whitehead is dealing with an ankle injury and is questionable for Sunday's game at Cleveland. Parks would be a candidate to replace Whitehead if the former Buccaneer is a gameday inactive.
"I'm always ready man, I'm always prepared," he said. "Football is important to me, so if something is important to you, it is nothing. When they call you up and your numbers called you got to be ready to go."
Parks played in three games (two starts) last season for the Green & White and registered a pass defense, 9 tackles and 1 TFL. In the preseason action, Parks had 5 tackles in three games.