When Donald Parham lines up with the offense on Sunday, it will have been 297 days since he last played football in a professional game.
The last time Parham was on the field was December 16th on Thursday night against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers faced a fourth down in the red zone when quarterback Justin Herbert threw to Parham in the back of the end zone, but when the tight end came down, his head bounced off the turf. He was stretchered out and taken to a local hospital.
It was a tough road to recovery.
“It all started mentally,” Parham explained. “Just making sure that I’m mentally tough enough to continue to play after what happened last year. The main thing was just building myself up and making sure that I’m in the right frame of mind.”
Parham shut it down by staying away from football. He mentioned that activities like playing video games helped.
“Get my mind off of football know and coming to terms with what happened, and then just put it behind me,” Parham said.
The Chargers tight end mentioned how great the organization and his teammates had been through the process. At a certain point, he leaned on his loved ones when he knew he had a decision to make.
“I’ve really been leaning on them to give me the guidance to see if I still want to play football after what happened,” Parham explained. “Talking to them and everything I’ve come to terms with this is what I want to do.”
Parham returned to football, and as soon as training camp got going, so did he showing off his abilities.
“The vertical element, whether it is outside as a receiver or at the tight end position in the seams, he can do a lot with the ball in his hands,” Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said.
Parham suffered a hamstring injury a few days into training camp, slowing him down until last week.
“I feel like I’m getting to work back in and continue to build a role on this team,” Parham said. “So, it’s really exciting for me.”
He has been out for a while, so he knows he must re-establish himself in the depth chart. The coaches know what he can do and who he is. He is a 6’7 mismatch that has impressive speed for his size.
Last week, he was questionable going into the game against the Houston Texans, but Staley and Co. decided to let him rest one more week and get ready for Cleveland.
“I’ve been on the sideline for the past few weeks,” Parham said. “So, it was really a big deal for me in terms of getting back into a rhythm. So, I feel like it’d be really important for me to get back out there.”
This is his first game back, so offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi can throw in some plays for the big tight end. In last year’s matchup against Cleveland, Parham had a 22-yard touchdown catch where he went through three defenders to get into the end zone.
“I think he’s a guy that’s a pretty important weapon to us when he’s rolling,” Lombardi said. “We’re not going to overload his assignments on his first game back, but certainly someone that we’re planning to work in when he’s ready to go. I think he’ll be an important add for us.”
The Chargers will need all hands on deck Sunday, with receiver Keenan Allen missing his fourth game with a hamstring injury. Parham can be a weapon that could help the Chargers offense, especially with him and Herbert having established chemistry. He is ready to help his team win.
“It’s a long time coming,” Parham said. “I’m pretty excited.”
Nuts N’ Bolts
- Chargers injury report vs. Cleveland. Out: WR Keenan Allen (hamstring). Questionable: WR Josh Palmer (ankle) and K Dustin Hopkins (quad).