Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker hasn’t had a 1,000-yard season since he last tore up the Jefferson County school district as a senior at Louisville, Kentucky’s Ballard High in 2010.
He believes he’s going to have his first as a pro this year. He’s made it one of his goals, in fact, and the fact he’ll be catching passes from Jay Cutler is one of the reasons he believes he can achieve that goal.
Cutler proved that during Week 3 of the preseason when Parker found himself in a one-on-one matchup deep down the right sideline against Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby.
Cutler’s long heave wound up as a 72-yard reception after Parker leaped up high over Darby to snatch the ball away before he regained his feet and ran another 40 yards to the Eagles 2.
Parker should continue to get those one-on-one matchups once the regular season begins. After all, opposing defenses have Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills to worry about, too.
But it’s not just Cutler’s penchant for throwing deep and the possibility that he’ll get more one-on-one matchups that makes Parker a good candidate to finally get back into the 1,000-yard receiving club.
We’ve been on the Parker bandwagon since training camp opened and one of the reasons is that, entering his third year in the league, Parker seems like a far more versatile and confident player.
Parker has the ability to play anywhere in coach Adam Gase’s scheme and he’s especially gained confidence in his ability to win jump balls like the one he won against Darby.
“You have to have a great mindset and go out there and play like nobody can beat you,’’ Parker said. “And right now, I feel like I can just go up and attack any ball and nobody can get it from me.’’
The fact he’s healthy again is part of what’s fueling that confidence. Parker spent a good part of last year battling hamstring issues, but he believes he’s figured out a way to beat those and stay on the field.
“I think last year, I waited too long to start back working out again (prior to the start of training camp),’’ Parker said. “This year, I had it in my mind that I was going to go home for a couple of weeks and then come back and go right back at it.’’
The plan has certainly worked well so far. Parker was easily one of the more impressive players through training camp and the preseason. If he can carry it over to the regular season, he and the Dolphins could both reach their objectives for the season ahead.