The buzz on Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker throughout training camp this year was that he was looking much more lithe and spry in his route running, impressing coaches with a determined focus as he entered his third year in the league.
And it seems to be paying off, as quarterback Jay Cutler connected with Parker on four catches for 85 yards in Sunday’s win against the Los Angeles Chargers, including a contested 31-yard catch on an underthrown pass that Parker pulled away from Chargers defensive back Casey Hayward.
“That’s being a monster,” fellow wide receiver Jarvis Landry said. “That’s what he is. That’s what we always need.”
And that’s what Dolphins fans expected when the 6-foot-3 Parker was drafted in the first round out of Louisville in the 2015 NFL draft. Injuries were Parker’s nemesis in his first two years, however, including a pesky foot injury his rookie year, and lingering hamstring issues last year that were attributed to dehydration. Parker has since changed his habits, and he will the first to tell you that being 100% healthy makes a huge difference in his play.
“I’m a little more aggressive now,” he says. “Last year I was injured all year, and I just didn’t have a chance to do that. Now I’m healthy and I can make plays like that. When you go out there knowing you’re healthy and you can just go out and play, you play at your best.”
Head coach Adam Gase is happy with his receiving corps of Landry, Parker, and Kenny Stills, and implies that fans can expect even more from them as the season progresses.
“We have something interesting brewing with that group,” says Gase. “We have three guys that are different types of receivers … they all have some strengths, and they are all different strengths. We’ll just keep working through that to see what we can create out of that.”
Gase likes what he saw from Parker in Sunday’s game, saying, “(Cutler) has a lot of faith in him, obviously. I think we were short on one, and DeVante took it right off of the guy's head. We had a couple other plays that were right there that he had a chance to make.”
And make them he did, including another 31-yarder that Cutler placed where no one except Parker had a chance to grab it.
“He threw a good ball to where only I could get it, and if I didn’t, no one else would,” said Parker. “He threw the ball where it needed to be … He has confidence in all of us, and he trusts we can go up and make the play.”
The Cutler-to-Parker connection will continue, as Cutler has shown confidence in throwing to the guy he describes as a faster Alshon Jeffrey, who was Cutler’s go-to guy when both played for the Chicago Bears.
"DeVante, since I have been here, every time I throw it up, it's either a catch or a completion,” says Cutler.
“That is what we like."
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
Latest Dolphins News