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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Preston Parker release by Giants speaks volumes

New York Giants wide receiver Preston Parker (15)

New York Giants wide receiver Preston Parker (15) fields a punt return in an NFL preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. Credit: Steven Ryan

When you're 0-2, everything is under the microscope. Even the slot receiver whom most people had never heard of until last week.

Eli Manning has been the focus of most of the criticism surrounding the winless Giants, but Preston Parker was a frequent target, too. The little-known receiver, who barely made the roster on the final cutdown day, dropped five passes in the first two games, including four that would have gone for first downs.

And now he's gone. A day after Manning had assured Giants fans during interviews that Parker would be just fine with a little more work, the Giants released him and thereby delivered an unmistakable message: You don't perform, you're out.

It may have been the quickest cut by Tom Coughlin in his 11-plus seasons here.

Not that it was the wrong move. Fool me once (three drops against Dallas), shame on you. Fool me twice (two more drops against the Falcons), shame on me. No third chance for Parker.

Coughlin offered a terse response about Parker's release being related more to the Giants needing an extra lineman -- former Jets defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis was re-signed. The coach also said it wasn't related to the improving health of wide receiver Victor Cruz, who likely will return for a Week 4 game against the Bills.

When I asked the coach if there was some sort of statement in Parker's release, he replied cryptically: "I'll leave that up to you."

In that case: Yes, I think it was absolutely a statement by Coughlin, who is desperate to find ways to get his team in the win column after two botched fourthquarters to begin the season.

It is rare for such drastic action to be taken; after all, the Giants kept Parker at the expense of James Jones, who wound up re-signing with the Packers and scoring a total of three touchdowns in his first two games back in Green Bay. That's only two fewer TDs than Parker had drops, another reminder to frustrated Giants fans about Parker's performance.

Coughlin was with the Giants as a receivers coach in 1990 when Bill Parcells made the shocking move to release wide receiver Lionel Manuel, a seven-year veteran, late in the season because of attitude problems. Manuel, arguably the most talented receiver on the team that year, was hardly missed; the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl.

Two years later, after Cowboys backup running back Curvin Richards fumbled twice in a meaningless final regular-season game against the Bears, coach Jimmy Johnson wanted him gone. Johnson went on to win his first Super Bowl a few weeks later.

Coughlin, a former taskmaster who remarkably has been supportive of his players since undergoing a major transformation following the 2006 season, had generally nice things to say about Parker after his release. But there was just enough edge in his answer to know he meant business.

"Preston Parker, for the majority of time he was here, was a very tough, physical football player who made plays when called upon," Coughlin said. "That hasn't been the case necessarily this year. We thank him for his service."

And on they go, with Coughlin unwilling to throw good money after bad. Rueben Randle, whose locker is just a few feet away from where Parker's was, said he'll now be used some as a slot receiver.

"It's just an unfortunate situation," Randle said of Parker's release.

"The receivers were kind of sad about it, but we have to move on now. It's just a part of it. As receivers, you go through your struggles. It's about how you bounce back from it."

Parker won't get that chance -- even if he's hardly the only player guilty of mistakes. In an uncompromising league with big-time consequences, another chance wasn't merited.

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