Miami Dolphins scale back ‘giant claims’ about WR DeVante Parker

The Dolphins aren’t saying as much about DeVante Parker this offseason. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — It’s not that the Dolphins are lowering their expectations of wide receiver DeVante Parker, but they don’t want to heap pressure on him by telling everyone how great he’ll be.

There’s been a change in tone among Miami’s coaches this year when it comes to Parker, who is coming off an underwhelming 2017 season and has yet to live up to being picked 14th overall three years ago. In an effort to keep him zeroed in on his daily work, they’re done telling everyone that the breakout season is right around the corner.

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“The biggest thing for him is we were making these giant claims about him last year; Right now, it’s one day at a time,” wide receivers coach Ben Johnson said after today’s practice. “It’s a one-day-at-a-time mentality. We’re just trying to improve from yesterday. That’s all it is. We’ll keep stacking good days on top of each other and that’s how we’re going to keep improving.”

Parker had a career-best 57 catches last year, and his yardage (670) and touchdowns (one) declined from the previous season. He played 13 games, some of them while battling injuries.

Health has been a recurring issue for him, mostly with his ankle and back. He’s started 24 games in three seasons.

While his production hasn’t been what the Dolphins needed, the coaching staff is adamant that it’s due to a lack of effort. For the past two years, Adam Gase and others have repeatedly credited Parker for taking a serious approach to training and doing everything he can to be in good shape.

“I don’t know if there’s been many guys that’ve spent more time in the building than him, whether it’s getting his health right, in the training room, in the weight room (and) even watching film,” Johnson said. “To me, it’s been a different guy this offseason. He understands the urgency and how important this year is.”

Last spring, the coaches couldn’t say enough about how good Parker looked as he tore up the secondary in Organized Team Activities. He kept that going in training camp and the beginning of the season, and offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen predicted he would have “a great, big year — a gigantic year for us.”

Parker started with 18 catches for 230 yards and a touchdown in the first three games, but trailed off after hurting his ankle against the Titans in early October. He had back-to-back games of one catch for five yards late in the year and was involved in a few interceptions that he could have prevented.

Johnson said he didn’t break down much 2017 film with Parker this offseason, preferring to bury that year, but one point of emphasis he pulled from the second half of his season is that Parker needs to learn how to still be a factor even when he’s not fully healthy.

“It’s going to be game in and game out, but he has to perform,” Johnson said. “We’re going to get nicked up. That’s just the nature of the beast. For him, it’s just the understanding, ‘Hey, I’ve got to live with that and I still got to perform regardless.’”

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Dolphins coach Adam Gase gets much-needed help from Dowell Loggains

Dowell Loggains is the Dolphins’ new offensive coordinator this season. (Getty Images)

ORLANDO—There were points during the recent Dolphins season when coach Adam Gase knew he was in over his head.

It’s not that the job was too difficult for Gase or he was unprepared, but he realized he was handling too many parts of the offense. He needed a deputy to take some off that off his schedule, and he needed someone who wouldn’t hesitate to argue with him.

He found someone for both roles by hiring offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. While Gase will retain play-calling duty, Loggains will be more than a sounding board. That’s how former coordinator Clyde Christensen was portrayed, even by himself, and Gase sought to find someone who would be more of a partner than an advisor.

“We have a very easy-working relationship to where he knows me well enough to where he was doing a lot of the things that I needed him to do,” Gase said. “I don’t really have to say anything. He just goes and he does it. He knows how to organize and he knows how to manage the staff. It’s a very smooth transition.”

There were times last season when there didn’t seem to be total cohesion within the staff, particularly with the offensive line and all the turmoil it faced, and Gase believes Loggains will clean some of that up.

He will be instrumental in developing Ryan Tannehill, too, which is a change from Christensen. He said last season he didn’t work much with the quarterbacks.

Christensen, by the way, will remain part of the staff. He agreed to stay on as Director of Football & Player Development. He will remain part of the team’s daily practices and meetings, and his new job description seems fairly similar to the role he served as Gase’s coordinator. Gase said keeping him in the fold is “extremely helpful.”

At 37, Loggains comes in as more of a peer. Gase, 40, was his boss in Chicago in 2015 as well, when he was the offensive coordinator and Loggains was the quarterbacks coach. They clicked that year, and that relationship has continued over the past two and a half months as they’ve dissected what went wrong with Miami’s offense last season and how to get it firing this year.

“Dowell knows exactly what he needs to do, what he needs to get done and where I kind of fit into this whole equation,” Gase said.

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Miami Dolphins’ Adam Gase explains why he needs new OC Dowell Loggains

Adam Gase intends for Dowell Loggains to make his workload lighter. (Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS—It turns out being a mind reader is an essential qualification for being the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator.

Adam Gase didn’t necessarily go into the offseason thinking he needed help running the offense, his specialty, but when former co-worker Dowell Loggains became available, he saw a great benefit in adding someone who knew him so well.

“Dowell can really jump ahead,” Gase said at the NFL Combine today. “He seems to have a good knack for knowing what I’m thinking before saying anything. That’s always something that is a good thing to have when you’re a head coach and you have a lot of things you have to accomplish.”

The translation is that Loggains is familiar enough with Gase’s thought process that he can handle some things for him, making Gase more efficient in his broad responsibilities.

Gase also illustrated some of his rationale for the hire when discussing what first-year Lions coach Matt Patricia will encounter as he makes the transition from coordinator to the head job, as Gase did two years ago.

“The hardest thing in that first year is just managing your time, because you want to be involved in the side of the ball that you’ve been working on for your entire career,” he said. “You’re trying to manage your time between offense, defense and special teams. It depends on if you’re calling plays or calling a defense. That’s going to occupy more of your time. You’re more involved in personnel and more involved in so many decisions, and then you’re dealing with a lot of managerial-type things. You have to manage your time extremely well, because next thing you know, you’re not hitting things you need to hit.”

Gase will retain play-calling duty, which he has had since coming to the Dolphins in 2016, but Loggains will have a meaningful voice in the game plan. He is expected to have more input than former offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen, who described himself as more of a sounding board for Gase.

Christensen is remaining on staff in an advisor role that doesn’t seem drastically different from what he was doing the last two years.
Loggains was the Bears’ quarterbacks coach when Gase was their offensive coordinator in 2015. He took over for Gase in Chicago and was the coordinator the last two seasons before being dismissed when the team fired coach John Fox.

Loggains, 37, was also the Titans’ offensive coordinator in 2012 and ’13.

“Dowell knows how I think and we’re able to communicate very easily,” Gase said. There is just something about our connection that it works well, me and him.

“As soon as I heard that he was moving on and I knew that he was interviewing… I knew that was really the fit that I was looking for. Being back around him has been great for me… You’re around guys that you’ve worked with before and they know the system. It felt like he never left.”

Gase also brought in offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn, who worked for him in 2016, and running backs coach Eric Studesville. Studesville was an assistant with Gase in Denver for five years.

The new staffers are charged with helping Gase fix an offense that has been “garbage” for most of his time running the team. The Dolphins were 29th in yards rushing last year, 18th in passing and 28th in points scored.

Loggains comes in from a Chicago offense that actually gained fewer yards and scored fewer points. His job could get even more difficult, too, if the Dolphins do not hang on to leading playmaker Jarvis Landry.

He’ll also be working with a rebuilt quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, who has never been better than league-average but showed promise under Gase in 2016 before suffering a season-ending knee injury that season and another one in the ensuing training camp.

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Dolphins coach Adam Gase overhauls staff hoping for change in 2018

Adam Gase says goes into the 2018 season with a much different coaching staff. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

MIAMI GARDENS–A sick feeling permeated the Dolphins’ locker room on New Year’s Day as players cleaned up the clutter from a 6-10 season. It’d been in the back of some of their minds over the previous few weeks when they’d blown key games to squander their shot at the playoffs, and it hit hard knowing there was no longer anything they could do to fight it.

For many veterans, it was a familiar scene. Reshad Jones, a safety who’s been with the organization since 2010 and never appeared in a postseason game, looked around disgustedly.

“I think we’ve got the right guys in this locker room,” he said. “I’m not sure what we need to change but something has to change. I can’t put one finger on it right now.”

Personnel moves are surely coming, but coach Adam Gase’s began his attempt to cure Miami’s mediocrity by overhauling his staff. He’s preparing for the upcoming season with new position coaches at 5 of 8 spots, as well as some other additions, and a retooled power structure.

Several underperforming position groups will have new supervisors when they hit the field for Organized Team Activities this spring: offensive line, running backs, wide receivers, defensive line and defensive backs.

“Sometimes change is good,” safety T.J. McDonald said. “We definitely needed a little change, whether it was through the coaches or whatever it might have been, so if this is the first step they felt like we needed, then we’re all in.”

The biggest shift comes at the top of the Dolphins’ offense, where Gase replaced coordinator Clyde Christensen with Dowell Loggains. That’s more than merely swapping out nameplates on office doors.

Christensen has almost 40 years of experience in coaching and agreed to be Gase’s offensive coordinator knowing that title wouldn’t come with much, if any, authority since the head coach would still be calling plays and managing every detail. He was a vital advisor, but as he put it, “It’s his show, and I’m just dancing in it.”

It won’t be that way with Loggains at all. Gase won’t let go of play calling, of course, but he brought in a 37-year-old peer and is willing to delegate some aspects of the offense.

The offensive line has been a major concern during Gase’s two-year run, and it was a mess last season with the forced resignation of Chris Foerster. The Dolphins brought in Dave DeGuglielmo as an emergency option mid-season, Gase settled on Jeremiah Washburn last month as a permanent solution.

Washburn was the assistant o-line coach in 2016 and left to take the same job in Chicago last season. Miami is keeping Chris Kuper on as his assistant.

It’s likely no new coach faces more critical decisions than Washburn, who comes in without a starting five in place. With right tackle Ja’Wuan James possibly on his way out, Washburn has to figure out where to play guard/tackle Jesse Davis, whether guard Ted Larsen works better on the left or right side and how to get more out of left tackle Laremy Tunsil after a disappointing season.

Gase fired running backs coach Danny Barrett and replaced him with Eric Studesville, who he worked with in Denver. Studesville also holds the title of Run Game Coordinator. At receiver, he promoted longtime Dolphins staffer Ben Johnson from assistant position coach to the head job, and former receivers coach Shawn Jefferson is now the Assistant Head Coach.

Gase retained tight ends coach Shane Day despite that position being a debacle each of the last two seasons and kept quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree. Hardegree was responsible for most of Miami’s red zone scheming last season.

Defensively, the Dolphins shelled out the fourth-highest amount of money for a defensive line in the league and finished 26th in sacks. Kris Kocurek, Ndamukong Suh’s first NFL position coach, came in from the Lions to see if he can do what Terrell Williams couldn’t. Kocurek also coached in Detroit with Matt Burke, who is staying on as defensive coordinator.

Burke and Gase also made a change in the secondary after the team finished middle of the pack in passing yards allowed and in the bottom third of the NFL in opponent completion percentage and passer rating. The Dolphins intercepted nine passes out of 528 attempts against them last year.

There’s a sense that the talent isn’t the issue, and that must’ve been Gase’s thinking when he fired defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo. Tony Oden, who was freed up by the head-coaching change in Detroit, has already made a strong impression on the players.

“Coach Oden’s a really good coach, great guy,” cornerback Bobby McCain said. “I met with him a couple times… He knows what he’s doing. We’re happy to have him. We’re excited to get started.”

Miami is also giving former safety Renaldo Hill his first NFL coaching job. He jumped from the University of Pittsburgh to be Oden’s assistant.

At linebacker, another position of concern, the team is sticking with position coach Frank Bush and assistant Charlie Bullen.

All the new faces will make it a much different atmosphere for the Dolphins when they get back to football over the next few months, but it’s not just a shakeup for the sake of doing something. Gase obviously believes he’ll be more comfortable and effective in this setup, and ultimately his job is the one that’s at risk if the plan doesn’t work.

“I definitely trust what Coach Gase and everybody is doing,” McDonald said. “We’re gonna ride with it and buy in.”

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Dolphins move OC Clyde Christensen to Director of Football & Player Development

Clyde Christensen is sticking around. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

The Dolphins are officially announcing Dowell Loggains as their new offensive coordinator today, but Clyde Christensen will remain on staff.

Christensen will take the title of Director of Football & Player Development, which will keep him heavily involved in practice, working with players and coaches and developing each week’s game plan.

When coach Adam Gase opted to bring in Loggains two weeks ago, he actively sought to keep Christensen on board and the two still have a great working relationship, a source said. Christensen, 61, is on board with the new arrangement because he enjoys working with Gase and liked the idea of being a mentor to Miami’s young players and coaches.

He will be a valuable resource to Loggains, who is 37.

Christensen was the offensive coordinator the last two seasons, though his role was to be an advisor to Gase. Gase retained control over play-calling and worked directly with the quarterbacks.

Miami was 28th in points scored and 25th in offensive yardage last season while going 6-10 and missing the playoffs.

The new job doesn’t sound drastically different for Christensen, who described his role this season as “Giving (Gase) some ideas and kind of manage the things underneath him, talk through some things… so he can focus on calling the game.”

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Dolphins coach Adam Gase continues staff shakeup with another firing

The Dolphins’ defensive line will have a new leader next year. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

As part of Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase’s ongoing renovation of his staff following a 6-10 season, the team is not bringing back veteran defensive line coach Terrell Williams.

Williams was let go today, a league source confirmed, making him the fourth assistant coach from last season who won’t be back next year. Gase already replaced offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen with Dowell Loggains, brought in Jeremiah Washburn as the new offensive line coach and fired running backs coach Danny Barrett.

The Dolphins’ defensive line might have needed a new voice after failing to play up to its $36.2 million cost last season. That was the fourth-highest paid d-line in the league, and Miami finished 26th in the league with 30 sacks.

Veterans Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh had excellent seasons, and Andre Branch’s frustrating year can be attributed mostly to injuries. Beyond that, the Dolphins need to develop several younger players like defensive end Charles Harris.

Williams was hired before Gase took the job in January 2016 and stayed on through the arrival of defensive coordinators Vance Joseph and Matt Burke. This is the first change on Burke’s staff after a season in which the defense was 29th in points allowed, 19th in yards per pass attempt and 17th in yards per rush.

Prior to his three years with the Dolphins, Williams coached in college and the pros since 1998.

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Ex-Dolphins coach Chris Foerster admits cocaine use, wants to resume career

Former Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster was forced to resign in October. (AP)

It’s been three months since Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster lost his job, and possibly his career, because of a video that showed him snorting cocaine. As he continues treatment in a rehabilitation facility in West Palm Beach, he said he’s never been happier and wants to return to coaching.

Foerster spoke extensively about his problems in an interview with NFL Network that was released today. You can read the full story by Tom Pelissero by clicking here.

“I have a chance to fix my life,” Foerster said. “I have a chance to get well, I have a chance to get right, I have a chance to get better… and I’m sincere in that.

“Why do I want to coach again? Because I love coaching and helping players… I made a terrible mistake and I’m responsible for it, and I didn’t go to treatment because I wanted to get my job back. I knew this s— was out of control. It’s been the most humbling experience. But it’s what I needed.”

Foerster, 56, had been an NFL coach since 1992 and was the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator in 2004. Adam Gase hired him to coach the offensive line when he took the job in January 2016.

The organization was stunned when the video surfaced in October, and Foerster admitted the substance he was snorting was cocaine. He also said he’s battled alcoholism for the past 30 years.

The Dolphins maintained from the beginning they would support him despite forcing him to resign from the staff, and Foerster told NFL Network the team is paying for his stay in rehab.

“I’ve had a great love for him and his family for 25 years,” former Miami offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said at the time. “That hasn’t changed. Now it’s just a friend who is dealing with some struggles and will stay a friend and we’ll pray and keep pulling. There’s no other option but to overcome this thing for him.

“(The Dolphins) do the best they can to take care of their people. I’m amazed at that… I don’t think anyone will kick him to the curb.”

More recently, Christensen expressed optimism about how Foerster was progressing.

“I think things are going well for him,” he said last month. “That probably would be all I want to say is that he’s doing well. He’s working hard. He’s a good man and he’ll work on his life, just like the rest of us.”

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Adam Gase runs Dolphins’ offense, but OC Clyde Christensen gets booted?

Clyde Christensen is being replaced as Miami’s offensive coordinator. (Andres Leiva/The Post)

DAVIE—Clyde Christensen is losing his job over all the bad plays he didn’t call.

Christensen was the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator the last two seasons to help Adam Gase in his first NFL head-coaching gig. Now he’s out as Gase turns to Dowell Loggains to replace him after Miami spent another year in the bottom 10 of the league in total offense.

Who’s to blame for all the “garbage offense,” to use Gase’s term, South Florida has endured the last two years? Not Christensen.

Gase runs the offense, something 11 other head coaches do, and he’s relied on Christensen mostly as an advisor. Gase calls the plays and works directly with the quarterbacks.

He recruited Christensen at least in part because he had almost four decades experience coaching offense, including 20 with the Buccaneers and Colts. At 61, he’s also more than 20 years older than Gase. That’s an extremely helpful resource—if you’re somehow able to secure it.

It’s hard to picture many coaches with his résumé wanting to take a job like this, one in which the head coach was intent on maintaining total control. Christensen seemed to embrace the role of getting Gase’s career off and running.

When asked during the recent season to clarify his responsibility on the staff, Christensen described it as “giving him some ideas and kind of manage the things underneath him, talk through some things like ‘How do we get this thing back on track?’ so he can focus on calling the game.”

He continued, “It’s the same as it’s always been, just to be a complement to him. It’s his show, and I’m just dancing in it.”

That’s not Christensen being snarky, by the way. That was something he said very humbly and supportively in a press conference when Miami’s offense was at its worst.

A funny story emerged in the preseason when the wide receivers began complaining that Christensen threw the ball too hard during their warmup drills. That prompted some good chuckles, but also this question: Why was the offensive coordinator doing a job that could’ve been handled by an intern?

“We’ve got about four quarterback whisperers here, so I just moved over to the receivers,” he said, making a joke that really wasn’t a joke. When asked about Jay Cutler’s performance at one point this season, he deferred by saying, “I’ll let Coach deal with that just because he’s kind of handling him.”

It gets harder and harder to see where Christensen is at fault.

Gase and Christensen’s dynamic has always come across like a father-son relationship, an image that traces back to the days Gase and Sean McVay and a bunch of the league’s other up-and-coming offensive minds would huddle around Christensen at the NFL Combine like he was their grandpa.

“We’d all be sitting in the end zone, and there’d be Clyde Christensen,” Gase said. “And there’d be like a herd of all these guys in their mid-20s sitting around him listening to Peyton Manning stories.”

Christensen backed Gase at every turn, no matter how bad things looked when he opened his career with a 1-4 start or this season when his offense managed two touchdowns in the first three games. After being shut out by the Saints in London, there was Christensen counseling Gase in a corridor at Wembley Stadium.

If Christensen doesn’t remain on staff, or if he’s marginalized to the point that he’s no longer part of the inner circle, Gase is going to miss that voice. He’d benefit from keeping Christensen as close as possible, but that could be awkward after replacing him.

The man replacing him, Loggains, is 37 years old, spent exactly one season working with Gase and was the offensive coordinator of a Bears team that averaged 16.5 points per game last year (he had a rookie quarterback, to be fair). He was looking for work because Chicago fired coach John Fox last week.

It takes a lot of faith in Gase to believe this is the move that’s going to get Miami’s offense rolling, which is something people down here have craved more than anything. It’s not just that the Dolphins are perpetually mediocre, it’s that they’re boring. They haven’t had a top-10 offense since 2001.

Since Gase took over the Dolphins, they’ve scored the ninth-fewest points, gained the sixth-fewest yards, committed the seventh-most turnovers, posted the second-worst third-down conversion rate and ranked 18th in passer rating. Something definitely needs to change, and apparently he thinks this is it.

He’s surely feeling the pressure of turning that around, especially going 6-10 this year. That sets the stage for a pivotal—and tense—upcoming season. He’d better be right that Loggains is the one to help him navigate it.

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Dolphins WR Kenny Stills played 2017 season with torn tendon in finger

Kenny Stills played hurt this season. (Andres Leiva/The Post)

DAVIE—This is typically how injury discussions go in the NFL: the player brushes off whatever they’re playing through during the season, but afterward they’re willing to be a little more open.

That’s exactly how Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills handled the right hand injury that affected him for most of the season. After coyly saying he wasn’t even hurt at the time, he admitted today he played through a torn tendon in one of his fingers.

“It’s just part of the thing where you just start playing through the pain a little bit,” he said. “You guys saw it in practice, where I didn’t catch balls one of those weeks and it was just trying to get through the week and make it to the game. Regardless of what’s going on, I’m always going to try to be out there for Sundays. It’s fine.”

The good news for the Dolphins is Stills will not need surgery on his hand this offseason. The rest will be enough for it to fully heal.

The week leading up to Miami’s Week 4 game against the Saints, he was unable to catch passes in practice. The quarterbacks would either pretend to throw him a ball or toss him a tennis ball when he ran routes.

Credit Stills for putting up an impressive season in spite of the issue. He was second on the team in catches (58), yards receiving (847) and six touchdowns. His 14.6 yards per catch ranked 22nd in the NFL.

“We’re dying for guys who you can say ‘Hey, do it like him. Work like him. Act like him,’” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said late in the season. “That’s what we’re dying for leadership-wise offensively… Just some guy where you say, ‘Hey, do you want to get better? Watch Kenny Stills. Watch how he works. Watch how he takes care of his body. Watch what he does on off days. Watch what he does after practice. Watch him during practice.’

“He’s becoming that kind of guy, so that’s been great. It’s been fun to watch, and he’s turning into a really, really fine receiver.”

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Dolphins WR DeVante Parker frustrated as disappointing season ends

Another nondescript season by DeVante Parker ended today. (Getty Images)

MIAMI GARDENS—The Dolphins expected a lot from wide receiver DeVante Parker this year. He expected even more.

As the hype swelled that this would finally be Parker’s breakout year, he believed it more than anyone. He had good reason, too. It was a strong offseason for him, he upgraded his entire off-field program and he looked excellent on the practice field in the month or so leading up to the season.

After a good first few games, his season spiraled because of multiple ankle injuries and he closed 2017 with pedestrian totals of 57 catches, 670 yards and one touchdown—nowhere near what he or Miami had in mind when he was the 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft.

“No, it didn’t go like I wanted,” he said after the Dolphins season-ending 22-16 loss to the Bills today. “Not for me. I just need to stay healthy, any way possible.

“Everything was good coming in. The ankle injuries just happen. I can’t control them.”

Parker caught six passes for 64 yards against Buffalo, giving him a decent final few games after hitting a rut in late November.

His plan for the coming offseason is to “get the body right, keep it right and just work,” which is exactly what he hoped to do coming into the year.

The upside for Parker is that there’s still faith in him among the coaches, starting with Adam Gase. Gase has defended him throughout the year, repeatedly pointing out to the media that injuries were a factor. Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said recently he still thinks Parker will grow into a player who routinely puts up 100 catches, 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“Coach gives me chances,” Parker said. “I’ve gotta make them count. He has faith in me that I’ll make the play when he calls my number.”

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