Raiders expect Roscoe Parrish to provide pop on punt returns

ALAMEDA – Roscoe Parrish had his season, and ultimately his seven-year tenure in Buffalo, cut short last fall when he hurt his ankle in Week 2 against the Raiders.

Needing to boost their anemic return game, the Raiders are now the second team this preseason to bring in the veteran wide receiver and return specialist and give him a shot at, appropriately, a return.

The Raiders on Tuesday morning signed Parrish, who then joined his teammates for practice. Coach Dennis Allen said Parrish will handle punt-return duties for the Raiders in Thursday's final preseason game at Seattle.

In three games, the Raiders have averaged 4.4 yards on seven punt returns. Denarius Moore, who returned punts last year, has been out since the first week of camp (hamstring). And Jacoby Ford, who was supposed to take on those duties with returning kicks, hasn't practiced since injuring his left foot Aug. 17 at Arizona.

With the Bills, Parrish led the NFL in average punt return in 2007 (16.3) and 2008 (15.3), returned three punts for touchdowns and also averaged 23.6 yards on 20 kickoff returns. After the Chargers waived him Monday in the first round of roster cuts, the Raiders made their move. The website first reported the deal late Monday night.

"We wanted to get a chance to take a look at him, especially as a punt returner," Allen said. "We're watching the waiver wires to see if there's anybody we feel like has got a chance to help us. We'll … get him out there to return some kicks Thursday night and see what we've got."

Parrish also caught 134 passes for 1,502 yards and seven touchdowns in Buffalo, but Allen said the player's "primary purpose" will be as a returner.

Parrish missed the second half of 2010 with a wrist injury, and then suffered the season-ending ankle injury last year. Tuesday, Parrish recalled he caught a 16-yard pass against the Raiders and then realized he was hurt.

"The next play, I tried to line up and heard a clicking in my ankle, and that was the last of it," Parrish said.

Any lingering effects, though, are minor, he said.

"I mean, I'm back. I feel like I ain't lost my skill set. It's all about opportunities. … It was a tough situation (with the Chargers, but) it was an opportunity to show teams I can still run around and still have it."

Allen hasn't ruled Ford or Moore out for the Sept. 10 season opener against San Diego. Moore, who declined to talk about his injury Tuesday, ran routes on the field before the Raiders played Detroit last Saturday. Ford is no longer wearing a protective boot but hasn't started running again, Allen said.

"I think they're close, but I don't know if close means tomorrow or the next day, or exactly when that means," Allen said. "I hope close means real soon."

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