Injured elbow won't stop Parrish from playing

Tony Parrish has started every game since the day he arrived in the NFL in 1998 - 76 consecutive games and counting. But when he walked into the 49ers locker room earlier this week with his swollen right arm looking as though it belonged to Popeye, you kind of had to wonder if this would be the week that streak finally comes to an end.

Parrish suffered ligament damage in his right elbow during San Francisco win over Seattle last Sunday, and he came to work the next day with his arm severely engorged from the injury and his status in question for this week's game against the Cowboys in Dallas.


Parrish was held out of practice Wednesday when the Niners returned from a player's day off to prepare for Dallas. But his arm appeared much better, and Parrish said, "I plan to play. It doesn't matter how I'm listed on the injury report."


Parrish said he has been fitted for a brace that he will wear on game day, and his elbow was feeling "much better."


"It's coming along," he said. "The swelling has gone down. We just have to get all the fluid and inflammation out of there. It's getting there, it's just a painful process. Of course, I'll be able to play with it. You get in the game and the juices are flowing and you just get used to bringing it the same way as always."


Parrish has been bringing it in a big way for the Niners this season. A Pro Bowl candidate, he has helped hold the team together at the injury-ravaged safety position. He leads the team in interceptions (3), fumble recoveries (2), is second in passes defensed (9) and fourth in tackles (59).


With safeties Zack Bronson and Ronnie Heard both out and John Keith nursing a broken thumb, Niners coach Steve Mariucci felt some relief about his safety position Wednesday when he saw Parrish's improvement.


"I feel better about it," Mariucci said. "I know John Keith's going to be available to play, he practiced today and he'll practice all week. Tony's arm looked much better today than it did yesterday. It was very swollen, but it's gone down. And he's saying he's going to be ready to go. So I feel better about that than I did."


Parrish said he wouldn't think of missing Sunday's game. And it has nothing to do with keeping in playing streaks alive.


"To put importance on that, I don't know if I really can," Parrish said. "All I really know is I don't like missing time. The desire to want to be out there, to want to play, to want to compete and be accountable for your teammates … The desire to be on the field and contribute is strong enough that I will overcome whatever it is I have to do in order to it."




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