Parker, an undrafted rookie free agent who finished seventh in the NFL in preseason rushing with 202 yards and two touchdowns on 46 carries, beat out second-year running back Dante Brown for the fourth running back spot with the Steelers this year as the team announced its final 10 cuts Sunday afternoon, trimming its roster to 53 players.
Parker, a rookie out of North Carolina, was the only undrafted rookie to earn a spot on the team's opening-day roster, as
outside linebacker Dedrick Roper, the only other rookie free
agent still on the team's roster, was released.
"He's got very unique speed. He's got excellent hands. He had
no problem picking up the offense, and we were even able to
play him on third downs some," Steelers head coach Bill Cowher said of Parker. "He's got a lot of very unique qualities
that are intriguing, and the opportunities he had - even though a
lot of it was late in games - he made the most of it. It's rare to
find a big, tough guy like he is who can catch and can run like he
can, with the speed that he has."
Brown, the team's leading rusher in the preseason last year, did
not see any game action last season. The Steelers attempted to
trade Brown, but were unable to do so.
Also released Sunday were veteran outside linebacker Adrian Ross, nose tackle Kendrick Clancy - who opened the 2001
season as the team's starter at that position - safety Russell Stuvaints, place-kicker Rod Bironas fullback J.T. Wall, and
rookies Drew Caylor, Bo Lacy and Eric Taylor. Caylor and Lacy,
both offensive linemen, were sixth-round draft picks this year,
while Taylor, a defensive lineman, was the team's
The release of Roper and Ross means Alonzo Jackson will be
the team's backup outside linebacker along with James Harrison.
"His last two games have been his best two games," Cowher
said of Jackson. "He's played pretty well. Then you have to come
down to a game-day roster, and that's not always indicative of
where guys are. We'll have to see where that is from that
standpoint, because a lot of times the kicking game becomes a
part of that. That's why the 45-man game-day roster is not
always indicative of where guys are in terms of the depth chart."
The Steelers had three sixth-round draft picks this year and the
third, tight end Matt Kranchick of Penn State, was one of four
players at his position retained by the team.
The Steelers' final roster also includes three quarterbacks, five
running backs, five wide receivers, nine offensive linemen, six
defensive linemen, eight linebackers, 10 defensive backs and
Parker and Kranchick were two of just five rookies to make the
roster, joining quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, cornerback
Ricardo Colclough and offensive tackle Max Starks, the Steelers'
first, second and third-round draft picks.
The Steelers can begin filling spots on their eight-man practice
Caylor, Stuvaints, Roper, Lacy and Wall are among those
expected to be added by the Steelers to their practice squad.
Brown is also eligible, but may be signed by another team.
And then there were 53
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