With Sammie Stroughter on injured reserve and both Jordan Shipley and Preston Parker no longer on the team, it seems pretty clear that new Buccaneers receiver Roscoe Parrish is going to get a serious look as the team’s punt returner. He certainly has the resume to back up that assignment.
Since Parrish entered the NFL as a second-round pick of the Bills in 2005, only one player in the entire NFL has been more consistently effective on punt returns, among all those with at least 75 attempts: Devin Hester. Hester’s average of 12.8 just tops Parrish’s mark of 12.0. Only three others are even at 11.0 or better (Eddie Royal, Ted Ginn Jr. and Danny Amendola) and some of the notable names farther down the list are Josh Cribbs, DeSean Jackson, Adam Jones and Leon Washington.
This is no matter of small sample size, either. Of all the players in the top 25 on the aforementioned list, only Hester, Cribbs and Wes Welker had more returns in that time span than Parrish’s 135. In fact, Parrish has plenty of attempts to stake out his place in the NFL’s all-time top 10 in punt return average. Here’s the list as it stands today:
|1. Devin Hester||2006-12||212||12.8|
|2. George McAfee||1940-50||112||12.8|
|3. Jack Christiansen||1951-58||85||12.8|
|4. Claude Gibson||1961-65||110||12.6|
|5. Bill Dudley||1942-53||124||12.2|
|6. Rick Upchurch||1975-83||119||12.1|
|7. Roscoe Parrish||2005-11||135||12.0|
|8. Desmond Howard||1992-2002||244||11.9|
|9. Billy Johnson||1974-88||282||11.8|
|10. Mack Herron||1973-75||84||11.7|
Parrish was the NFL’s punt return average leader in both 2007 and 2008. He only played in two games last year due to injury, but as recently as 2010 he put up a fine mark of 10.9. One other interesting corner of NFL history that belongs to Parrish: In 2007 and 2008 he became the first (and so far only) player to return punt returns for touchdowns on consecutive opening weekends.
Looks like the Bucs’ punt return game is now in good hands.