Wide Receiver DeVante Parker has had a rocky start to his career. The former 14th overall pick has battled his share of injuries in his first two years. A foot injury caused Parker to miss the first seven games of his career. He battled back problems late into his second season and was plagued by inconsistency. There’s always hesitation to go all-in on DeVante Parker. People can’t help but see the size, athleticism and speed that made him so appealing to Miami. With receivers like Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills, if you don’t show up every week, you could easily be forgotten. Will this be the season that Parker finally breaks out?
His new quarterback, Jay Cutler, surely thinks he will.
“He is a really good player. The sky’s the limit for him. He can do a lot of different things. I think he’s kind of a faster Alshon. He’s got a lot of range, back shoulder and over the top. He’s got great hands. Then, he can burn you up if you’re flat-footed.”
With a gunslinger like Cutler calling the shots, the odds are in Parker’s favor. Cutler isn’t opposed to taking his fair share of deep shots. He also has a habit of locking onto big-bodied receivers and forcing the ball in their direction. That’s what happened in Chicago when the Bears offense featured Brandon Marshall and Jeffery. Brandon Marshall had two seasons of 1,000 yards receiving and 100 receptions and Jeffery had two seasons of 1,000 yards receiving with Cutler.
Parker has shown sparks but has not lived up to his first-round talent. He averages 41 catches, 619 yards, and 3.5 touchdowns per season and has shown signs of improvement. He increased his catch total by 30 (from 26 to 56) and his yardage by 250 (from 494 to 744) last season. He had two 100-yard games but eight games under 50 yards. He has yet to play a full season but there’s been no mention of any injury this pre-season.
Parker had some encouraging words in a recent interview.
“It’s been real good,” he said. “I’m healthy and I just like coming out and competing every day and getting better.”
In Cutler’s debut Thursday night, Parker had a completion for 16 yards. He also connected on a 31-yard deep pass that was called back due to a holding call. Could this be a preview of the Cutler-Parker connection? Cutler loves giving his big receivers a chance to come down with jump balls. If the connection heats up, I don’t see any reason why Parker won’t breakout. If there’s a receiver that’s going to benefit the most from Cutler, it’s probably Parker.
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