DeVante Parker is not playing in the Miami Dolphins regular-season opener on Sunday, according to a league source.
The starting wide receiver has been out since he suffered a broken finger during a practice Aug. 12. And although the team was hoping four weeks would be long enough to heal the fracture and get Parker on the field against the Tennessee Titans, the decision has been made to be cautious with Parker rather than risk a setback.
That means both Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant are likely going to get many more snaps than originally planned in the opener at Hard Rock Stadium.
The Dolphins were pleased with both players during the preseason.
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When coach Adam Gase was asked on Sunday about Parker’s status for the game, he deflected the question.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m not there yet.”
But in getting there, the Dolphins must have weighed their comfort level of being without Parker. And that level is high because Wilson in camp met expectations set when he was signed in the offseason, and Grant has shown signs of developing.
“I mean those guys that we have right now, I think Jakeem (Grant) has really found something to where he’s contributing on offense and we really like him at the spot he’s been playing,” Gase said. “I think moving him outside last year was huge for us and for him, and he feels comfortable.
“Those corners are not happy to see him because of his speed and he’s making plays and he’s getting better at catching the ball consistently...Before it was three guys and we were always looking for that fourth and fifth. Now it’s legit. You’ve got five guys that you feel really good about.”
It is unclear whether Parker will be able to play in the second game of the season on Sept. 16 at the New York Jets.
This is obviously not a good way to start the season for Parker. He has been plagued by minor injuries in the past and has never been able to play all 16 regular season games in his three previous seasons.
Parker’s history, particularly earlier in his career, has been not being able to play well when he’s hurt but not so much that he is available for the game.
Parker wasn’t having a stellar training camp when he got hurt in early August. Although most coaches were pleased with him, particularly about the fact he had mastered the playbook for both outside receiver positions, he simply wasn’t making many plays in practice.
Cornerback Xavien Howard was often matched against Parker in practice and usually won the matchup. The issue became so obvious in training camp sessions open to the public that fans on websites and social media began speculating whether Parker would be traded.
The answer to that question came via reporting in this space.
Despite this setback, the Dolphins are trying to remain positive about Parker, and with Parker. They don’t want him to lose confidence. They don’t want him to concentrate on what kind of season he can or can’t have. They’re sensitive to the idea that Parker might press and put pressure on himself -- which could further hinder his production.
The Dolphins also aren’t seeing Parker is exceedingly fragile. Although he does have an injury history, he opened many eyes within the organization when he was able to play in a Week 12 game against Baltimore in 2016.
Parker played that game despite a serious back injury. The injury was so serious no one expected him to actually be available until just hours before game time when he declared himself available.
Might there be a replay of that last-minute surprise this week?
The situation is different this time. Parker did not play all preseason and has not really practiced in three weeks. Even if he practices on a limited basis this week, which is no certainty, it would be a risk to let him play with a bone in his hand that is not yet fully healed.