Thursday is the final day of fan voting for the NFL’s Pro Bowl.
Miami Dolphins place-kicker Cody Parkey has been to the Pro Bowl. That was a serious groin injury and two teams ago, but he’s kicking at that level again — just not as often.
As a rookie out of Auburn in 2014, Parkey set an NFL rookie scoring record by piling up 150 points for the Philadelphia Eagles. He made 32-of-34 field-goal attempts and all 54 of his extra-point kicks.
The Pro Bowl selections at kicker that season were the New England Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski and the Indianapolis Colts’ Adam Vinatieri. When the Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl, Parkey was picked to take Gostkowski’s place at the Pro Bowl.
“It was cool,” Parkey said of kicking in the NFL’s all-star game. “Obviously, I was a little star-struck being a rookie, undrafted and playing with guys — shoot, I remember (current Miami teammate) Cam Wake was there. Odell Beckham Jr. You’re practicing with these guys, and you’re like, ‘Oh, do I belong here?'”
A season-ending injury sidelined Parkey after the third game of the 2015 season. In 2016, the Eagles decided to stick with his replacement, Caleb Sturgis, and Parkey landed with the Cleveland Browns that season. After training camp and the preseason, the Browns chose to go with rookie Zane Gonzalez as their kicker for 2017 and released Parkey in the final cutdown to the regular-season roster limit.
Miami claimed Parkey off waivers, a week before its regular-season opener, and released Andrew Franks, the Dolphins’ kicker for the previous two seasons.
After connecting on both his field-goal attempts in Miami’s 27-20 victory over the New England Patriots on Monday night, Parkey has made 15-of-16 three-point kicks in 2017. His only miss came when he was wide right on a 50-yard attempt in a 40-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 26 — the only one of his seven 50-or-longer attempts in the NFL that he’s missed.
“He’s really been what we expected,” Miami associate head coach and special-team coordinator Darren Rizzi said. “He’s a consistent guy. He’s got a great approach, he has a professional approach. He’s a very good self-evaluator, and a lot of times — it might sound simple — but as a kicker, that’s a big thing. He’s got a great demeanor.”
During his Pro Bowl season, Parkey made 94.1 percent of his field-goal attempts. This season, he’s at 93.8 percent, which is the best mark in the AFC. But with the Dolphins ranked 28th in the NFL in total offense, Parkey is tied for 25th in the league in field-goal attempts.
The competition to be the AFC’s Pro Bowl kicker seems stout, with Gostkowski, Vinatieri and the Baltimore Ravens’ Justin Tucker kicking in the conference — and each of them have had more chances than Parkey. Tucker, who earned the Pro Bowl honor last season, has made 27-of-30 field-goal attempts in 2017. Gostkowski is 31-of-34, and Vinatieri is 22-of-25.
While Parkey hasn’t had quantity in his kicking this season, he’s had some quality. He made a 39-yard field goal with 22 seconds to play to lift Miami to a 31-28 victory over the New York Jets on Oct. 22. Parkey scored the final seven points of Miami’s 20-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 15, including a 38-yard field goal with 2:30 left. In the Dolphins’ season-opening game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 17, Parkey made four field goals, including a 54-yarder with 65 seconds remaining in Miami’s 19-17 victory.
Parkey received the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week Award after his performance against the Chargers.
Parkey also has excelled on kickoffs — both long and short. The Dolphins lead the NFL with their opponent’s average starting field position after kickoffs at the 22-yard line. Miami also has been successful on both of Parkey’s onside kicks, including one that he recovered.
“He’s been really good, not only in the field-goal area but also on the kickoff area,” Rizzi said. “We ask him to do a bunch of different things between deep kicks, short kicks, onside kicks. He’s been a great, welcome addition.”
Fans can cast votes online and via Twitter through today for the Pro Bowl. Twitter votes can be made by tweeting the first and last name of a player or the player’s Twitter handle and accompanying either with the hashtag #ProBowlVote.
The 44-player rosters for the AFC and NFC teams are determined by the votes of fans, coaches and players, with each group’s results counting one-third in the selection process.
The Pro Bowl rosters will be announced at 7 p.m. CST Tuesday on NFL Network.
The Pro Bowl will be played at 2 p.m. Jan. 28 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. ESPN will televise the game.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.