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How Browns K Cody Parkey overcame a 48-hour whirlwind: 'I think I'm here for a reason'

Cody Parkey was getting ready to play a round of golf in his hometown of Jupiter, Florida, when the Browns called.

After losing starting kicker Patrick Murray because of a knee injury one day before a trip to Miami, head coach Hue Jackson and the club were in search of fresh legs.

So they dialed up Parkey — who set the NFL rookie scoring record and went to the Pro Bowl in 2014 with the Eagles before parting ways with the club last month — and asked the 24-year-old to come to Cleveland. 

"I packed up, got a few T-shirts and cleats and all that good stuff," he said.

Parkey, whose flight to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport landed around 11 p.m. Friday night, woke up at 6 a.m. the following morning and headed over to the team's Berea facility.

"I did some physicals, passed the physicals, went in to sign a contract, they showed me the gist of it and then I went out for walk-through and then I was back to Florida with the team," Parkey said, outlining what was something of a 48-hour whirlwind prior to Cleveland's overtime loss to the Dolphins.

In that narrow defeat, of course, Parkey was called upon to kick six field goals, including a would-be game-winner from 48 yards. He missed it, and Miami ultimately scored on its second possession in the extra period.

But the Browns didn't lay blame at their new kicker's feet, and Parkey didn't hang his head.

"I challenge any of us to come in here on a flight late Friday night, wake up and meet the coach for a second and then get on another flight and head to Miami and not know really a lot of your teammates but some and walk out and kick in pre-game and then go kick in a game," Jackson said last week.

Instead, Parkey bounced back at Washington in a big way, knocking down tries from 51 and 45 yards to help pace Cleveland last weekend.

"It was awesome. I got a good week of work in with the team, specifically with (punter and holder) Britton (Colquitt) and (long snapper) Charley (Hughlett), and kind of got a rhythm down, and for a kicker that's really important to get a good rhythm and to know when the snap's going to come so you can prepare," he said.

"All that stuff really helped me out. As soon as I kicked the ball, you can tell just right off your foot if it's going to be a good kick, so immediately I knew I had some good kicks, great snaps and great holds all day."

Indeed, Parkey's display made good on the confidence bestowed in him by Jacskon and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, who said "selfishly, I hope the game comes down to a game-winning field goal because I believe when we trot him out there that he will make it​."

"It's incredible. Coach Tabor all week was just telling me how he jacked he is that I'm here, how good he thinks I am and how good he thinks I can be. He could have easily been like, 'oh well, yeah he didn't do very good the first game,' but the whole team — coach Tabor, coach Jackson — the whole team had my back the whole week," Parkey said.

"To see that was huge and it just makes me want to compete and do better for this team each and every week so it's an awesome feeling to have a coach like that."

Parkey, who was limited by an injury in 2015 and ultimately was waived this summer, said he's enjoying his "fresh start" with the Browns. "I have the same goals as my rookie year," he said, "when I set all those records and went to the Pro Bowl."

And it's also why Parkey didn't lose his confidence after his debut in Miami.

"Kickers are going to have bad games. You look at the best, they had bad games but it's how they respond," he said.

"For me it's like every day's a new day to get better, so I just go out and approach it like that every day  and every day I'm here is a blessing. I think I'm here for a reason."

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