DAVIE — For anyone, it would constitute a decent shot delivered via social media. For a man of as few words as DeVante Parker, it was a shot heard ’round South Florida.
When former Dolphins receiver Chris Chambers was asked on the Five Reasons Sports Network podcast to rank current receivers on the team, he listed Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson and Parker, in that order.
“Nobody cares about his opinion,” wrote Parker, who has a bit of history with Chambers.
It was somewhat understandable in the sense that when it comes to DeVante Parker — especially in summertime — there always are more opinions floating around than there are receptions for the man himself.
The consensus, of course, is that Parker’s potential and Parker’s production are acres apart. The funny thing is that Wednesday, another voice chimed in to agree.
Asked how he’d describe his play over his first three years in the NFL, Parker said, “It was not where I wanted to be. It’s as simple as that.”
Parker caught 57 passes for 670 yards and one touchdown last season. In his career, he has yet to have a year with more than 60 catches, 750 yards or four touchdowns. His per-season averages: 46 catches, 636 yards.
But if it’s June, it must be time for someone to say this year finally will be the year everybody sees the real DeVante Parker. Last year, it was offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen predicting a “gigantic” 2017. Wednesday, it was fellow receiver Jakeem Grant.
“His approach this year is way different than it was last year,” Grant said. “I think he definitely wants to go out there and prove to people he’s better than what people think he is. He’s not just a guy that continually gets hurt or whatever. … He’s going to be great. Without doubt, he’s going to be one of the top receivers in this league.”
Alongside Julio Jones and Antonio Brown? Grant also said he calls Parker “a beast.” At 6-feet-3 and 212 pounds, Parker should be just that, especially in the red zone. Instead, he has dealt with ailments such as hamstring and ankle problems that seem more prevalent than they really are.
Believe it or not, Parker has missed only five games in his career. But the injuries have limited him to 24 of a possible 48 starts — hardly what you’d expect of a first-round draft pick. As they’ve shortened his Sunday afternoons, they’ve restricted him to just three 100-yard games, none in 2017.
“Stay healthy,” he said of his top priority for 2018.
If you’re wondering if Parker believes he has changed anything in his offseason approach to curtail nagging injuries, think again.
“Right now I’m doing the same thing I’ve been doing that’s been working,” Parker said.
Ironically, Grant’s boast came just a week after receivers coach Ben Johnson said the team was working to tone down expectations for Parker.
“The biggest thing for him is we were making these giant claims about him last year,” Johnson said. “Right now, it’s one day at a time.”
Outside of that jab at Chambers on Twitter, Parker seems content to just tune into those around him.
“You’ve just got to not worry about what anyone says outside the building,” Parker said. “They know what’s really going on on the inside.”
Parker said he’d like to get 1,000 yards this season and “a few touchdowns.”
Although he stopped short of claiming Chambers should have ranked him the best receiver on the team, Parker added, “I’m with Jakeem every day, so he sees me working, knows what I’m doing.”
The Dolphins showed faith in Parker in April when they picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. It’s worth $9.5 million, but it’s guaranteed only if he gets injured. Otherwise, Parker could be thrust in a position of having to prove he’s worth $9.5 million next year.
The ideal way to avoid sweating that out: have a gigantic year.
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