All indications are that the Dolphins will get wide receiver DeVante Parker back for Sunday’s game at the Jets.
Parker, the team’s tallest player at the position, has been out since mid-August with a broken middle finger on his right hand. He resumed catching passes this week with his middle and index fingers taped together and said he’s set to return after missing the season opener.
“I just think everything happens for a reason — unfortunately it always happens to me,” Parker said after being a full participant in today’s practice. “But I’m just ready to get back out there with my teammates and get going again.”
Parker has been hit and miss for the Dolphins since drafting him No. 14 overall in 2015, but coach Adam Gase has remained insistent that he can be a dynamic downfield threat.
He looked good in his first season playing for Gase, posting career-highs in yards (744), catches (56) and touchdowns (4), but struggled last year. He missed three games and finished with 57 catches for 670 yards and one touchdown.
Coming into this season, coaches and players generally reined in their talk about Parker after hyping potential breakthroughs in previous years that didn’t materialize. The thinking was that those expectations placed additional pressure on him, and he was able to work through the summer relatively under the radar compared to Stills and newcomers Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson.
Parker is taking a similar approach. While he’s aware of “all of the negative energy” as far as fans and media criticizing his play, he’s not going to get sucked into that and put extra stress on himself.
“I just want to go out there and prove to myself and make my family proud, and go out there and do what I need to do to get the job done,” he said.
Parker’s finger snapped sideways when he got it caught in teammate Xavien Howard’s facemask about a month ago. He kept up his conditioning and ran routes without a football to stay in shape, but the training staff didn’t want his finger absorbing the impact of catching the ball.
With two fingers taped for stability, he felt fine with the ball hitting his hand today and said it didn’t impede his ability to catch. He’ll have the tape on his hand if he plays Sunday.
“It feels good,” he said. “It’s nothing at all.”
With Parker on the sideline, Miami knocked off the Titans 27-20 and had a reasonably productive passing game. Ryan Tannehill completed 20 of 28 passes for 230 yards and spread the ball to five different receivers. Stills led the way with four catches for 106 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown.
Parker said he would not have felt comfortable playing last week even if the medical staff had allowed it, but now he’s adamant about getting back on the field. Gase added that the training staff believes the finger has healed enough that it’s not at any additional risk of being reinjured, so he’s heard all he needs to about Parker’s status.
“He seems fine,” Gase said. “I think he’s itching to play. We went through today and he got involved in team reps... He hasn’t complained about anything. He’s been aggressive to get out there and catch as many balls as possible. He did a good job of staying in shape. Running-wise, he’s good.
“I think he’s just excited to get going. I know when he tells me that he’s ready to go and he wants to go, when he’s that emphatic about it, that’s a good sign for us.”
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