DAVIE — The Dolphins are still waiting for a breakout season from former first-round pick DeVante Parker, and his coaches and teammates are always quick to defend him by pointing out how much injuries have held him back.
While there’s not much Parker can do about getting hurt, and there’s good reason to believe that’s his biggest problem, there are some things he can do better on the field. New offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is enamored by his talent and envisions him being an explosive threat this year, but he has a few aspects he wants to work on with him.
“Just consistency, just the fundamentals here and there that he hadn’t gotten to really master because he’s been limited,” Loggains said today. “It’s been impressive to see him fight through some of the stuff that he’s overcome — being banged up, being hurt and doing those things. Once he gets healthy and plays consistent with Ryan (Tannehill), I think that his production will go up and be the player we think he can be.”
This is a crucial year for Parker’s future with the organization. The Dolphins already exercised their $9.4 million option on him for the 2019 season, the last year of his rookie deal, but that can be rescinded as long as he’s not injured. He’ll have to prove he’s worth a raise that nearly triples what he’s going to make this year and possibly show he merits a long-term investment.
Miami took him No. 14 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, and his rookie season was mostly a struggle. Parker played better in Year 2, his first with Adam Gase, and had 56 catches for 744 yards and four touchdowns.
After an overwhelming offseason and preseason, the already high expectations were heightened even more. However, the Dolphins lost Tannehill to a season-ending knee injury in training camp and Parker battled health issues of his own throughout the year.
His numbers dropped — 57 receptions, 670 yards and one touchdown — and he was the team’s No. 3 receiver behind Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. There were only five games in which he managed more than five catches.
What Loggains loves, though, are the things he does that are hard to coach. Parker’s natural ability, plus some finer points of the position that he’s mastered, were evident when he sat down to study his film.
“The one thing that’s really impressive about DeVante is for a (tall) guy, he can get in and out of breaks,” Loggains said. “To run those comebacks and be able to drop his hips, a lot of long-cut guys struggle with that. DeVante has the ability to do that.
“I had the advantage of seeing some of the OTAs and training camp cut-ups that we go through and the first cut-up I turned on was Day 1 of training camp and he’s playing above the rim and catching a red-area touchdown. We’ve got to make sure that we max out his potential because it’s there.”
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