DeVante Parker saying the right things after two quiet games to start Patriot career

·4 min read

Perry: Parker saying the right things after two quiet games to start Patriot career originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

PITTSBURGH -- DeVante Parker was one of the most impressive Patriots on either side of the ball through most of training camp. He made difficult, leaping, contested catches on an almost daily basis. He was consistently a red-zone threat for quarterback Mac Jones, and he was constantly running with the starters during his first summer in Foxboro.

Parker remains a key part of the Patriots offensive plan. He's played more snaps (109) through the early portion of this season than any other receiver on the team.

But his box-score production belies his workload. Parker has just one catch for nine yards on four targets through two games. Eight players on the team have more receiving yards than Parker to this point, including Lil'Jordan Humphrey, Kendrick Bourne (who played just two snaps in Week 1) and Ty Montgomery (on injured reserve and missed Week 2).

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Two of Parker's four targets this season -- one in Miami and one in Pittsburgh -- have resulted in Jones interceptions.

Parker spoke to NBC Sports Boston after Sunday's win over the Steelers, and said he didn't feel as though there was much more he could do differently in order to get the football in his hands more often.

"Nope," he said. "I mean, hey, we're winning. That's all I really care about. I care about Ws. As long as we're winning, I'm fine."

Parker was asked if there was any reason why the 50-50 passes that he caught so consistently in camp -- he called them "80-20" balls -- haven't yielded yards through two games. One was picked by safety Jevon Holland in Miami. One was picked by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick on Sunday, coming over the top of a Parker seam route. Another on Sunday landed short of Parker, near his feet.

"No, we just have to have better timing," Parker said. "That's all it is. We'll fix that. We have plenty of games to fix that."

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On the Fitzpatrick pick -- which he explained came out of a Steelers "Tampa 2" coverage -- Parker said: "Safety just made a great play on the ball. That's a great safety back there. He just made a great play and that's all."

Asked if he's had any difficulty adjusting to a new system in New England, Parker insisted he felt comfortable. "No troubles with it," he said. "Doing what they're asking me to do. That's all I can do."

Parker was asked about one moment in particular on Sunday when he broke the huddle for a third-down snap unsure of the route he was supposed to run. He turned to Jones from his place out wide and turned his palms to the sky. Nelson Agholor tried to help him, it seemed. Then Jones tried to send Parker a hand signal, but soon thereafter the play clock expired. A third-and-eight situation turned into a third-and-13. The Patriots couldn't convert and eventually settled for a short Nick Folk field goal.

"Just miscommunication in the huddle," Parker said. "We gotta fix that. We'll be fine."

Parker relayed that he felt as though he was contributing to positive Patriots plays, despite his numbers through two games.

"Just being out there, my presence," he said. "You know, I'm just going out there blocking. Getting yardage that's out there. That's all. That's all they ask for."

Parker added: "I'm progressing pretty well. I'm doing what they're asking me to do. That's all you can do. Do your job ... 

"It's still early in the season. As long as we're getting Ws and we're winning as a team, that's really all that matters to me."

Parker was acquired, along with a fifth-round pick, from the Dolphins via trade this offseason. The Patriots sent Miami a 2023 third-rounder in the exchange, hoping Parker could provide them something they didn’t have in 2021 -- a boundary threat able to win one-on-one matchups on the outside. 

Parker won his fair share of those this summer, but that performance hasn’t yet translated to regular-season production.