CODY PARKEY'S first NFL season began in May in Indianapolis, where it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out he was a longshot to make the Colts, who feature a future Hall of Fame placekicker in Adam Vinatieri.
Seven and a half months later, the undrafted rookie out of Auburn enters Week 17 five points shy of breaking the NFL's rookie scoring record (144 points, by the Bears' Kevin Butler in 1985), as well as the Eagles' single-season scoring record. This week, he this week was named a first alternate for the Jan. 25 Pro Bowl, meaning he is two New England playoff wins from replacing the Pats' Stephen Gostkowski and joining five of his teammates on a trip to Glendale, Ariz.
"I never really thought about [the possibility of making the Pro Bowl as a rookie]," Parkey said this week. "My goal was just to go in every week, win every game that we can, make every kick. Obviously, I wasn't able to have my best outing last week, but it's still a huge honor for me and for the team."
Parkey is 30-for-34 on the season, his four 50-plus yard field goals a franchise record. Only David Akers (a team-record 144 points in 2008) has experienced a more productive season as an Eagles kicker than the one Parkey will cap against the Giants tomorrow, though some of its luster was lost in the woeful 27-24 loss at Washington. The worst afternoon of Parkey's young professional career featured two wide-right field-goal attempts, from 34 and 46 yards out, equaling his number of misses over the season's first 14 games.
After studying the game film a couple of times to discern where he erred, Parkey said that on both misses his hips weren't properly aligned - "maybe half an inch off," he explained. The margin of error is that minute.
"I mean, honestly, I'm completely forgetting about that game," he said. "It [stinks]. It happened. [I] sulked about it for a couple days, but it's not going to get any better, so I just got out [on the practice field] and [started] getting back into a rhythm of hitting my kicks. Honestly [I'm] just moving on."
Before last Saturday, his previous misses this season came from 38 and 49 yards. The misses against the Redskins were his first that came in an Eagles loss.
"Everyone misses. I think, at this point in your career, you kind of deal with it and you know what to do from then on," he said. "It's in the past, and I'm looking forward to getting going to the Giants game."
Given that he is, of course, a rookie, this has been Parkey's first season kicking in this many games. His three seasons as the starter in college lasted 13, 12 and 14 games, respectively. It's a fact worth considering when you examine his season, especially his statistics on kickoffs. He has 43 touchbacks, another franchise record, but 12 of his last 14 kickoffs have been returned.
Kick accuracy and kick distance will be among the many aspects of his game Parkey plans to hone during his first pro offseason, which he will spend back in his hometown of Jupiter, Fla. He will work out with Atlanta Falcons punter Matt Bosher, a fellow alumnus of Jupiter High. Parkey said he'll allow himself only a couple weeks of downtime before he starts training for the 2015 season.
If Gostkowski or Vinatieri drops out of the Pro Bowl, Parkey is next in line. He would be the first Eagles kicker in the Pro Bowl since Akers, who made it six times from 2001 to 2011.
"It's been an adventure; that's for sure," Parkey said of his rookie year. "I've been on two different teams, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love Philadelphia. I love the Eagles. I love the organization. I've had some success, but I think I can clearly build on some little things and come back better next year."
Bradley Fletcher, the Eagles' embattled starting left cornerback, is questionable to play tomorrow with a hip injury. He was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but fully participated yesterday. Quarterback Nick Foles (collarbone) is the only Eagles player ruled out. Everyone else on the injury report is probable, including linebacker Mychal Kendricks (ankle), who was limited in practice Thursday but a full participant yesterday. Trent Cole (hand) is also among those listed as probable . . . For the Giants, linebacker Devon Kennard (toe) was ruled out and running back Andre Williams (shoulder) is questionable to play.
Eagles (9-6) at New York Giants (6-9)
Sunday, 1 p.m.
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
TV: Fox 29 (Xfinity HD 805)
Radio: WIP (94.1-FM, 610-AM); El Zol (1340-AM, Spanish)