After regaining the starting left defensive end job, Juqua Parker is in line for another trip full circle on Sunday when the Eagles travel to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans, the team with which Parker began his NFL career.
Originally signed by the Titans as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State in 2001, Parker played four years in Tennessee before signing with the Eagles as a free agent in 2005. While Parker never started for the Titans, he has nothing but fond memories of his time.
"I had fun," Parker said. "I enjoyed myself and they gave me a chance to put myself out there."
Parker has certainly carved out a solid career for himself, as his 29.5 sacks since 2006 are the second most among all undrafted players. And, like the stereotypical fine wine, Parker is getting better with age. The 32-year-old had a career-high 8.0 sacks last season, and his 2010 is off to a fast start.
After originally ceding his starting job to rookie first-round pick Brandon Graham, Parker was inserted back into the starting lineup, in part to aid the team's run defense. But he's also no slouch as a pass rusher, as he has 4.0 sacks in six games thus far.
This week, the Eagles defense has a tough chore in defending the reigning AP Offensive Player of the Year, running back Chris Johnson. All week, the coaching staff has preached staying discipline to the defense, and Parker, as the veteran-most member of the defense, will be instrumental in that effort. But he'll also have his eye on the quarterback, where the Titans are likely to start veteran Kerry Collins after Vince Young missed practice all week with a knee injury. If Collins is indeed under center, Parker and the defensive line won't have to worry about a mobile quarterback like Young breaking the pocket.
Collins "is a pocket passer so you don't have to worry about him scrambling," Parker said. "You just have to watch film on them. We do that and then we'll see from there."
Parker added that he's got a short checklist of things to do on his trip down memory lane in Nashville. First, get a sack. Second, and more importantly, get a win.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 3:40 p.m., October 23