Armando Salguero

Wide Receiver DeVante Parker’s 2016 journey — One step forward, one back

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (10) and fellow teammates hug Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (11) after scoring in the first quarter as the Miami Dolphins host the Cleveland Browns in the home opener at refurbished Hard Rock Stadium on Sun., Sept. 25, 2016.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (10) and fellow teammates hug Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (11) after scoring in the first quarter as the Miami Dolphins host the Cleveland Browns in the home opener at refurbished Hard Rock Stadium on Sun., Sept. 25, 2016. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Study the Miami Dolphins injury report this week and you see Jarvis Landry on it. You see Kenny Stills on it. Both missed practice earlier in the week. Both were limited in practice Friday.

But both are expected to play on Sunday.

And the Dolphins are reasonably confident the players will deliver close to the kind of performance they typically get from each player.

That’s just the way it is sometimes with receivers or any football player. They may be hurt, but they’re not considered injured. So they play. And they’re expected to perform.

And that’s what’s interesting about DeVante Parker now.

He is not injured, per se. He wasn’t on the injury report at all this week. He didn’t miss any practice time. He was full go every day. He’s not injured. And yet he is apparently hurt.

And he’s been that way for months.

He was hurt in the spring when he got shut down because of a hamstring issue. He was hurt in training camp and was shut down because of a hamstring issue to the same leg but a different portion of the hamstring. He’s often complained to trainers and coaches about being in pain.

It has been an ongoing issue to the point coaches discuss among themselves where Parker is physically about as much as any player on the roster. And there’s also this:

Sometimes, even when Parker has seemed to be rebounding from the hamstring issue, it crops up again suddenly.

“Sunday was little surprise for me, because he had a really ... What did we go, Tuesday, Wednesday last week? Tuesday, it looked like he was feeling himself out. And then Wednesday, he looked like the guy that’s a first-round draft pick,” coach Adam Gase said of Parker and how he practiced the week before the Jets game.

“So, we were feeling really good going into Sunday. And then Friday, sometimes it’s hard to tell. You don’t have a ... We were working on red zone and things like that, so it’s hard to tell anything. (He) didn’t really have to open up. For whatever reason Sunday, things weren’t working right for him. He tried to open it up, but sometimes he just wasn’t able to go.”

So this is strange. And frustrating.

Parker, only 23 years old and in his second year, is sometimes taking one step forward and then without warning needs to take that step back because this mysterious hamstring injury sometimes bites on him and doesn’t let him be the player he wants to be or the player the Dolphins need.

So Parker misses the season opener. And then he has an eight-catch, 106-yard game at New England the second week of the season. Everyone thinks he’s about ready to bust loose. Then he regresses again.

The last two weeks, Parker has five catches for 28 yards combined.

Combined.

And as this has been happening often this season, we’re at the point where we think Parker can be a good player. The Dolphins think he can be really good.

But we just haven’t seen it.

“Sometimes it’s hard to explain things,” Gase said. “I guess I’ve been in a few situations with younger wide receivers. With Demaryius (Thomas), it was the same way. It was like you couldn’t buy a break. It was just something all the time that was bothering him, whether it would be an Achilles, a hamstring, his hand.

“I think he broke his hand one time or his fingers. He couldn’t catch a break. And then sometimes it just takes getting a little streak going where you feel good two, three weeks in a row and then you start getting very confident and you feel like, ‘Alright, I blew past that part of my career.’”

We thought Parker had that last December and January when he averaged over 20 yards per catch and was very productive. But, as you read before, one step forward, one back.

“It’s going to take some time to say, ‘I”ve had a couple of good weeks in a row. I’m alright,’” Gase said. “When you’re coming off any kind of soft tissue injury, you can’t explain it. You keep trying to do things to make yourself feel as 100 percent as possible.”

Maybe this week for DeVante Parker.

Maybe.

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