AJ Parker surfaced as a key piece in the Lions secondary as a rookie, and he’s bringing that experience along with some extra body bulk into his second season.
AJ Parker earned the job as the Detroit Lions’ top slot corner last year, which is a solid accomplishement for an undrafted rookie regardless of a team’s circumstance. He also produced solidly, with 50 tackles, seven pass breakups and an interception in 13 games.
Speaking to the media last Friday, Parker noted the benefit of experience going into his second season.
"The biggest difference is I got the year under my belt. I got the experience, so I kind of know what it’s going to be like, but mindset’s still the same,” Parker said. “I still got to earn every day. I got to earn every play and every rep so every time I go out there, I got to put my best foot forward.”"
Parker also missed four games, including a stint on IR with a shoulder injury. Head coach Dan Campbell cited a need for Parker to improve his durability, and he took a step toward that during the offseason.
AJ Parker added body mass to go along with experience
Parker stands 5-foot-11, and he was listed at 178 pounds last season. He’s up to a listed 189 pounds now, and via Ben Raven of MLive, it’s healthy weight.
"I’ll say the strength coaches did a really good job,” Parker said. “So I came up early this offseason and just got work with the strength coaches, got on a good meal plan and tried to put on as much healthy weight as I could. It’s just been helping me stay in the box more and keep people off.So I probably added about 10 pounds, got a lot stronger, mentally a lot better. Just trying to do what the coaches want me to do.”"
Parker is dealing with some competition for the slot role (Mike Hughes, Chase Lucas). But he still looks to be a key piece to a Lions’ secondary that’s eyeing improvement in 2022.