Last Call for Juqua Parker

Last Call for Juqua Parker

Of all the active players who could be wearing midnight green into battle for the final time on Sunday, defensive end Juqua Parker stands out the most. Believe it or not, Parker has been with Philadelphia since 2005, a tenure that spans seven seasons. Only Jamaal Jackson has played for the Eagles longer.
Parker becomes a free agent in March though. He'll turn 34 in May, and with Pro Bowlers at both ends of the defensive line, plus several talented youngsters champing at the bit, Parker has become expendable. The chances of him returning are essentially non-existent.
As a fan, the natural inclination might be to shrug your shoulders. Parker never became a star. He didn't author any especially memorable plays in franchise history. He didn't win a championship here. There is nothing really special about him at all.
While those things are all true, Parker was a serviceable player who built a surprisingly nice career here, albeit one that will go widely overlooked.
Parker began his career with the Titans as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State in 2001. Despite spending four seasons there, he never started a game. Four sacks in '03 were then a personal best for Parker, but he came away empty-handed the following season. His contract was up, as was his time in Tennessee.
Parker would not wind up joining the Eagles until training camp was already under way in the summer of '05, but still managed to make the 53-man roster. For the second season in a row, he failed to record a sack, but the front office brought him back on another one-year deal. What exactly they saw in this Juqua Thomas -- his given name which he later changed at his deceased father's request -- was no doubt a mystery to most observers.
Whatever it was, it finally clicked.
Parker made the most of his limited opportunities during the '06 season, breaking out with six sacks -- more than he totaled through the first five years of his career. The Eagles rewarded Parker with a five-year extension, and when Jevon Kearse wasn't cutting it in '07, Parker ultimately took his place in the starting lineup, where he remained for the majority of the next three seasons.
In '08, he was honored as the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week against the 49ers, when he sealed the deal with a 55-yard touchdown return on a fourth quarter interception in a 40-26 win. In '09, he went on to set a career high in sacks with eight, which is not a tally to sneeze at. This season, he's returned two fumbles for touchdowns.
In all, Parker has played in 104 regular season games for the Eagles -- only Mike Patterson has appeared in more among current Eagles -- and started 46. Over that time, Juqua has 31.5 sacks, tied with Mike Mamula(!) for 13th in franchise history. With two sacks on Sunday, he could move in to the top 10.
But that's not likely to happen, not with Jason Babin shooting for the team's single-season record, and reliable Trent Cole on the other end. Parker's playing time diminished drastically this season, his sack total dipping to a meager one and a half as a result. With Brandon Graham, Philip Hunt, and Darryl Tapp lobbying to see more action, there simply isn't room for all of them.
Regardless, it's not so difficult to understand what Andy Reid and Jim Johnson saw in Juqua Parker after all. He is and always was a hard worker who made few waves off the field. He persevered, and because he never gave up, he actually carved out a lengthy NFL career for himself.
A lot of fans have lamented there aren't any likable players on the Eagles, or very few at least. Sure, it's easy to forget about role players like Parker, but in many ways, he is the epitome of a true Philadelphian's athlete.
A resilient overachiever.

No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

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No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

SEATTLE -- Jake Browning threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns, Myles Gaskin added 100 yards and two scores, and No. 10 Washington was dominant on both sides, overwhelming No. 7 Stanford 44-6 on Friday night.

After months of hype that Washington (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) was on the verge of a breakout, the Huskies showed they were ready for their return to the national stage.

And they did it emphatically, handing Stanford (3-1, 2-1) its worst loss since a 41-3 setback against Arizona State in 2007.

The Huskies raced to a 23-0 halftime lead, scored early in the second half to go up 30-0 and coasted to their biggest victory over an AP Top 10 team since beating No. 5 Southern California 31-0 in 1990. That game 26 years ago announced Washington as a national contender and the Huskies went on to share the national title a year later with Miami -- taking the coaches' version while Miami topped the AP media poll.

Browning was the leader of an efficient offense that scored on six of its eight drives. He threw touchdowns of 3 yards to Dante Pettis, 19 yards to John Ross and capped the night with a 3-yarder to Aaron Fuller with 5:30 remaining. Browning was 15 of 21 and did not commit a turnover.

Equally important was Washington's ability to establish a running game. The Huskies rushed for 214 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.

Meanwhile, Stanford star Christian McCaffrey saw his Heisman Trophy aspirations hit a major speed bump. McCaffrey was held to 49 yards rushing on 12 carries, five catches for 30 yards and continued his streak of never scoring an offensive touchdown in a road game.

It was McCaffrey's fewest yards rushing since 2014 at California when he had 19 yards on three carries.

Stanford's only TD came late in the third quarter on a 19-yard pass from Ryan Burns to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

Burns was 15 of 22 for 151 yards, but Washington controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides. Stanford quarterbacks were sacked eight times, six in the first half. Stanford had allowed only four total sacks in the first three games combined.

Stanford was playing short-handed without starting cornerbacks Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder, starting wide receiver Francis Owusu and starting fullback Daniel Marx. Starting right tackle Casey Tucker limped off with an apparent leg injury late in the fourth quarter.

Takeaways
Stanford: The Cardinal were unexpectedly sloppy. Stanford committed 11 penalties after entering the week as the least penalized team in the Pac-12. There were communication issues in part due to the roaring Washington crowd, but also a lack of sharpness not normally seen from David Shaw's team.

Washington: The defense was up to the task of keeping McCaffrey under control and forcing Burns to beat them through the air. McCaffrey had 34 yards on 10 carries in the first half and forced the Cardinal into numerous long third-down situations. That allowed Washington to bring extra pass rushers to get to Burns.

Up Next
Stanford: The Cardinal head home after two straight weeks on the road to host Washington State.

Washington: The Huskies travel to Oregon looking to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Ducks.

Best of MLB: Darvish stars as Rangers beat Rays 3-1 and clinch home field

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Best of MLB: Darvish stars as Rangers beat Rays 3-1 and clinch home field

ARLINGLTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish looked playoff-ready with a season-high 12 strikeouts in six innings as the Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 on Friday night and clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

The Rangers can be tied by only the Cleveland Indians and they own the tie-breaker by winning the teams' season series. The AL owns home-field advantage in the World Series thanks to its win in the All-Star Game.

Darvish (7-5) allowed one run, three hits and one walk. His 28th career game of double-digit strikeouts is the second-most in a pitcher's first 100 major league starts, topped only by Dwight Gooden (31). Darvish will likely start Game 2 of the Division Series following Cole Hamels.

Shin-Soo Choo returned to Texas' lineup after missing 39 games with a fractured left forearm. Choo pulled a single to right in his first plate appearance since Aug. 15 and went 1 for 4.

Matt Andriese (8-8) gave up three runs and seven hits, including solo home runs to Carlos Beltran and Rougned Odor (see full story). 

Cabrera hits 2 HRs, Tigers move up in playoff race, beat Braves
ATLANTA -- Miguel Cabrera hit two home runs, Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton also connected and the Detroit Tigers moved up in the playoff race, beating the Atlanta Braves 6-2 Friday night.

The Tigers won their third straight and pulled within a half-game of Toronto for the second AL wild-card spot. The Blue Jays lost at Boston 5-3.

The regular season is scheduled to end Sunday, but the Tigers might need to play beyond that. They were rained out against Cleveland this week and would have to make up that game if it impacts their playoff chances.

Daniel Norris (4-2) gave up one run, five hits, two walks and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings.

The Braves, playing their final series at Turner Field before moving north to the suburbs next year, had won 10 of 11. Matt Wisler (7-13) was chased in the fifth when James McCann's RBI single made it 5-0 (see full story).

Trumbo hits 47th, Schoop 5 RBIs as Orioles top Yankees 8-1
NEW YORK -- Mark Trumbo hit his major league-leading 47th home run, Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones also went deep in a six-run fifth inning and the Baltimore Orioles beat the New York Yankees 8-1 in steady rain Friday night to maintain their AL wild-card lead.

Baltimore began the night tied with Toronto for the AL's two wild cards at 87-72, with Detroit 1 1/2 games back and Seattle trailing the Tigers by a half-game.

Trumbo and Jones homered off Michael Pineda (6-12), who started with 3 2/3 hitless innings and suddenly became ineffective.

Schoop tied his career high with five RBIs, hitting a go-ahead, two-run double in the fourth and adding a three-run homer in the fifth against James Pazos -- Baltimore's big league-high 250th home run this season.

Yovani Gallardo (6-8) won for just the second time in nine starts since Aug. 5, allowing two hits, three walks and Mark Teixeira's sacrifice fly in six innings (see full story). 

Ortiz delivers another HR, Red Sox beat Blue Jays 5-3
BOSTON -- Opening his final weekend with yet another game-winning homer, David Ortiz lined a two-run shot into the right-field stands to break a seventh-inning tie and help the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Friday night.

The AL East champion Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak and stayed one game ahead of Cleveland in the race for home-field advantage for the playoffs.

The Blue Jays fell one game behind Baltimore in the wild-card race and are now within range of Detroit and Seattle in the fight for the AL's final postseason berth (see full story).