On Tuesday, Bartlesville High graduate A.J. Parker saw his NFL career put temporarily on hold as the Detroit Lions — in which some observers called a surprise move — waived him as part of the roster cutdown to 53 players.
But, according to reports out of Detroit on Wednesday, the Lions have added Parker to their practice team roster.
Parker’s pro career is still moving forward, but it’s still been a tumultuous week for the cornerback/nickelback after his second training camp with Detroit.
Coming out of Bartlesville in 2016, Parker took his considerable game to Kansas State, where he played four years, starting full-time the last three seasons.
Not picked in the 2021 NFL draft, Parker signed as a rookie free agent in May 2021 with the Lions as a long shot to earn a spot on the team.
But, the 5-foot-11, 178-pound (then) dynamic force of athleticism put together a superb camp, moved up on the depth chart and landed on the Lions’ 2021 roster.
Parker made the most of his opportunity. He played in 13 games (seven starts) — missing four other contests while on injured status. He amassed some notable stats — 50 tackles, seven pass break-ups, a pass interception (vs. Baker Mayfield) and a fumble strip — that resulted in the winning touchdown — in a nationally-televised game against Green Bay.
Coming into the 2022 camp, Parker competed for a starting spot and would put on 10 pounds. Following an intense competition throughout training camp, Parker apparently was edged out in the late going by another cornerback candidate. In the final preseason game last Sunday, Parker had made three solo tackles against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Parker was put on waivers on Tuesday but no other team claimed him, which gave the Lions the opportunity to place him on the practice squad.
During his prep years at Bartlesville, he starred in football, basketball and track.
He helped the 2015 Bruin grid team to its best-ever record (10-2) and a spot in the state semifinals.
Perhaps his most impressive prep athletic feat took place during track, when he set the school record in the high jump at 6-feet-10-inches — 11 inches higher than his height.
By being named to the practice squad, Parker is just a step away from getting back on the field on Sundays. He was only the second Bartlesville prep product to be drafted (NFL) since 1959 (Markell Carter, New England Patriots, 2011, was the other). And, when Parker played last year, he was the first Bruin to suit up in a regular season NFL game since the 1970s (Bobby Joe Green, Chicago Bears), and the first regular position player since the early 1960s (David Baker, San Francisco 49ers).