DAVIE—Over the last three weeks, wide receiver DeVante Parker has turned into an afterthought in the Dolphins’ offense—a 6-foot-3, 212-pound, incredibly gifted afterthought.
That shouldn’t happen, and quarterback Jay Cutler has been intent on shaking him out of his slump. Cutler, who started working with Parker only four months ago, said he is taking on some of the responsibility for getting Parker rolling again.
“We challenge him, we encourage him, we try to feed him balls out there,” Cutler said after today’s practice. “We’ve just gotta get him believing in himself and using his talents. He’s an immensely talented dude, he’s a good kid, he wants to do it right, so we’re just finding ways to keep him confident and eager to go.
“He’s very approachable. He’s not a confrontational dude. There’s no real big ego there. He just wants to do it right and he wants to be a good-to-great player. We’ve just gotta help him along.”
One of the ways Cutler challenged him, according to Parker, was by saying, “I want to get the dog out of you again.”
Cutler said he took that tact with Parker after the Broncos game, when he had one catch for five yards. That followed a lackluster performance against New England in which Parker had… one catch for five yards. Cutler targeted him four times out of 31 pass attempts against Denver.
The last three games have been brutal, including five interceptions by Cutler and Matt Moore that were thrown his way.
After opening the year with 18 catches, 230 yards and a touchdown in the first three games, he injured his ankle against Tennessee and has been hit-and-miss since. He came back with nice games against Oakland (five catches, 76 yards) and Carolina (six catches, 66 yards), before a dismal showing in the loss to Tampa Bay.
Cutler has spent the past week or so trying to spur Parker back to the mentality he showed in August and September, when it seemed he was intent on proving himself as a legitimate No. 1 receiver. He continued that effort in today’s practice.
“We’ve been encouraging him today, we force fed him some balls a little bit to get him going,” Cutler said. “It’s gonna come. It’s not something that won’t happen for him. It’s not something where I think he’s playing bad. You just look at him and you know he wants more and we want more, so we’ve just gotta keep encouraging him down that right path.”
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