Time to believe in Dolphins WR DeVante Parker? Jay Cutler does

This looks like it’s finally DeVante Parker’s time. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

MIAMI GARDENS—There’s always a hesitation to go all-in on DeVante Parker. People can’t help but see the size, athleticism and speed that made him so appealing to the Dolphins as the No. 14 overall pick two years ago, but the conversation tends to stall on words like “potential” and “if.”

His new quarterback, Jay Cutler, is ready to buy.

“Really good player,” Cutler said. “The sky’s the limit for him. He can do a lot of different things.”

[RELATED: Photos from Dolphins-Ravens preseason game]

When pressed about whether Parker reminds him of any receiver he’s had before, Cutler chose former Pro Bowl pick Alshon Jeffery.

“I think he’s kind of a faster Alshon,” he said. “He’s got a lot of range—back shoulder, over the top. He’s got great hands. And he can burn you up if you get a little flat-footed.”

South Florida’s heard this before.

Remember how last year was supposed to be Parker’s breakthrough? The Dolphins were still trying to establish good lifestyle habits with him well into last season, he was inconsistent and ended up with a solid but unspectacular season.

At the risk of falling for this again, the evidence is stacking up in Parker’s favor right now. It seems like it’s time to believe.

There’s no more talk around the team about changes he needs to make; rather, people are pointing out changes he has made. He’s been an exasperating coverage assignment for cornerbacks. And most importantly, there’s been no mention of any injury, even a minor tweak.

Parker worked a short shift in tonight’s preseason game, a 31-7 loss to Baltimore, but continued exactly what he’s shown all summer. His best play was nixed by a holding call in the backfield, but the skill he displayed on a 31-yard pass from Cutler on Miami’s opening series is an indication of how good he is.

“That’s just him,” said Cutler, who hit Parker on a 16-yarder over the middle to start the next possession. “He naturally knows where the ball’s going to go. He can feel the defender, whether he’s on his top shoulder or he’s got him beat. I just kinda throw it. Some of these guys have a better feel than others, and he’s one of those guys that knows where the ball is going to go.”

That “I just kinda throw it” line must sound awfully enticing to Parker. He’s going to enjoy playing with Cutler, who’s never shown an aversion to launching it deep. That might not always be the most profitable play, such as the ball he chucked into double coverage for Parker on a near-interception, but the opportunities are sure to be there.

“The chemistry’s been going pretty good and it’ll probably get even better as we get running along and catching passes,” Parker said.

Parker missed much of last year’s preseason with a hamstring injury that ultimately kept him out of the opener at Seattle. He made it through all 15 games after that and finished second on the team in catches (56), yards (744) and touchdown receptions (four), but it was a choppy ride to get there and those aren’t convincing statistics for someone who’s supposed to be a No. 1 receiver.

Last season, he had two 100-yard games and eight games under 50 yards. That inconsistency generally intertwined with the ups and downs of his health. The hamstring issue never seemed to fully go away, and he had back problems late in the year.

The absence of those concerns is what makes this preseason so promising for Parker. He’s back to having fun at work every day, which is much easier now that his body feels right.

“It’s been real good,” he said. “I’m healthy and I just like coming out and competing every day and getting better.”

[Jay Ajayi shakes off “fog” of concussion, ready to play]

[Why the Dolphins decided to do joint practices with the Eagles]

[Julius Thomas is done trying to prove himself]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Reader Comments 0

0 comments