DeVante Parker flashes real chemistry with Mac Jones in first training camp practice

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Perry: DeVante Parker flashes real chemistry with Mac Jones on Day 1 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

FOXBORO -- When DeVante Parker came back to earth after soaring off two feet to make a catch in the back corner of the end zone, you could hear just how impressed Patriots quarterbacks were by the big-bodied receiver's hang time. High-pitched whoops mixed with laughter lingered in the air for about as long as Parker did.

It was one of several highlights for the new Patriots wide receiver during Day 1 of Patriots training camp practice Wednesday. Acquired from the Dolphins via trade this offseason, Parker spent time working on his craft with Mac Jones this offseason as he prepared to give his new team something it didn't have in 2021: a legitimate threat along the boundary.

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Though the Patriots were only in shorts and t-shirts Wednesday, Parker looked the part in his No. 1 jersey. He caught back-to-back touchdowns in a red-zone 7-on-7 period, firing up the crowd at one point following a score.

Parker also showed his strength at the catch point during one 11-on-11 play when corner Terrance Mitchell contested a tight-window throw and actually took Parker to the ground in the process. Parker held on and promptly spun the football on the turf in celebration.

While all eyes were on Jones and his coaches -- it was Matt Patricia who called plays on Day 1, communicating to quarterbacks via walkie-talkie -- Parker's rare size and hands stood out. Jalen Mills was able to bat away one 50-50 attempt from Jones to Parker, but otherwise, most of what was sent his way was reeled in.

If Parker can stay healthy and build on whatever he's already established in terms of chemistry with Jones, he could be a true difference-maker for Bill Belichick's offense. "Can stretch the field and uses his body well," one AFC exec told NBC Sports Boston when the Patriots executed what amounted to a pick-swap deal for Parker's services.

Parker has the ability to be that type of receiver that the Patriots offense has sorely lacked lately. It's why I called him the most important receiver on the roster earlier this offseason.

Perry's five bold predictions for the Patriots entering training camp

Back in 2019, Parker was one of the best down-the-field threats in football. He ranked third in the NFL in targets 20 yards or more down the field, and he generated a whopping 134.0 quarterback rating on those passes. Since then he's dealt with injury and inconsistent down-the-field passers, but he certainly has the ability to soften defenses.

Hit Parker on a few jump balls and back-shoulder throws, force a safety to respect him down the field, and suddenly the Patriots will have achieved what they've long been looking for on the offensive side of the ball: opponents forced to defend "every blade of grass."

It's early yet, but Parker certainly looked like someone with the ability to make a difference on Wednesday.