Poised Parker emerges
Of all the Bucs who played important roles in Sunday's win, the least likely might have been WR Preston Parker.

Start with the obvious: Parker got extensive playing time only because Tampa Bay's usual slot receiver, Sammie Stroughter, missed the game after foot surgery. And Parker arrived as a fringe player last season, a rookie free agent who was fortunate to make the team.

But Parker's 195 total yards in receiving and in the kicking game loomed large in the Bucs' 24-20 victory at the Metrodome. Included were six receptions for 98 yards.

"I came a long way," Parker said. "I still had to make the team. (There were) a lot of things I had to change about myself. I did it, and this is the outcome. And there's still more to come. It's just one game. Put it behind you and keep going."

Parker had the game's longest play, a 51-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter. And he recorded what was, arguably, the biggest play. It came on third and 4 from the Vikings 10 with 1:17 left. If the Bucs didn't convert, they would have to settle for a tying field goal rather than having a shot at a winning touchdown.

But QB Josh Freeman had a plan: Go to Sunday's go-to man. "When we got it in close and got to third and short, I knew we were going to have one-on-one (coverage) underneath with Preston," Freeman said.

He drilled a pass over the middle to Parker, who turned up the field for a 6-yard gain and a first down. With first and goal at the 4, the Bucs converted with RB LeGarrette Blount's touchdown run on the next play.

Parker's performance means he'll get further chances to make more. He is gaining the faith of Freeman and offensive coordinator Greg Olson. "I'm sure when they see I can make plays, they're going to try to come back to me," he said. "When you show them you can make plays you just make it easier for the coaches."

About the writer
Stephen F Holder has been writing additional Buccaneer features and daily blog reports on the team for several seasons now for The St.Petersburg Times.