Receiver DeVante Parker participated fully in practice on Thursday for the first time since breaking his right middle finger a month ago and is expected to play when the Dolphins visit the Jets on Sunday.
Parker said his finger felt fine after practice, and he will probably keep his fingers taped during Sunday’s game. “But I will catch the exact same,” he said.
After dealing with a foot injury in college at Louisville, Parker has sustained several other setbacks through his four-year career, including hamstring and ankle injuries and most recently, the finger.
He has missed seven games in three-plus seasons, including three last season and the opener against Tennessee. Parker said there’s no way he could have played last Sunday.
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“Everything happens for a reason,” Parker said when asked if he feels unlucky. “Unfortunately, it always happens to me. I’m just ready to get going again.”
Parker sustained the injury when Xavien Howard was covering him during an Aug. 12 practice and he fell to the ground. But he isn’t sure exactly how it happened.
“When I got up, my finger was bent in the other direction,” he said.
Parker, whose $9.4 million salary for 2019 is guaranteed only in the event of injury, knows this is a big season for him.
“I want to prove for myself and make my family proud that I can do what I need to do and get the job done,” he said.
Does he seize on criticism from doubters?
“I don’t listen to it,” Parker said. “I see it. I just try to ignore the negative energy.”
He responded publicly only to one of those doubters — former Dolphins receiver Chris Chambers, who noted this offseason that Parker hadn’t responded to his offer to help him. Chambers said at the time: “I don’t know if he fully gets what it means to be a pro” and ranked Parker third among Dolphins receivers.
To which Parker tweeted: “Nobody cares what [Chambers] thinks.”
Dolphins coaches want Parker to use his size (6-3) to attack balls with two hands.
“I’ve been doing it for a while,” he said. “I’m going to keep doing it. It’s better to attack the ball than let it come down to you and let the defender make a play on it.”
Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said Parker gives the Dolphins something they’re lacking: “Good player who has length and size. That’s the thing we don’t have right now.”
THIS AND THAT
For the second day in a row, guard Josh Sitton missed practice with a shoulder injury, and the Dolphins and his representative had no update on his status. Ted Larsen would play left guard if Sitton cannot play Sunday.
“The main reason that we wanted him on this team,” Gase said, “was if something ever happened to anybody and he went in the game, we were really comfortable with that because we feel like he is probably a starter at a lot of different places and we’re lucky enough to have him here.”
New center Travis Swanson said he played five games at guard as a rookie with the Detroit Lions in 2014 and is comfortable playing there.
▪ With 15 yards rushing Sunday, Frank Gore would surpass Curtis Martin for sole possession of fourth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.
“That’s big, especially with how my career was coming out of college,” Gore said of his rise up the list. “The knee injuries and hearing what a lot of people say I’d be in the league two or three years and be done and I’m still playing.”
The only four players who have more rushing yards than Gore’s 14,087: Emmitt Smith (18,355), Walter Payton (16,726), Barry Sanders (15,269) and Martin.
▪ For five plays late in Sunday’s game, the Dolphins used Torry McTyer at boundary cornerback, moved Bobby McCain from the boundary to the slot and shifted Minkah Fitzpatrick from slot cornerback to safety. Why?
Defensive coordinator Matt Burke said it was a “good opportunity for Torry to get some game work. Make sure guys get action at other spots we use them at.”
▪ McCain said he plans to study tape of Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold when he played at Southern California “to see what he did right, wrong.”
▪ Is Durham Smythe able to give the Dolphins the blocking and physicality that MarQueis Gray gave them before his season-ending injury?
“He’s going to get there,” Loggains said. “He’s working really hard at it.”
A.J. Derby played the most of the tight ends Sunday and Loggains said “there will be plays we have for Derby each week where we feel he’s better than the other two guys [Mike Gesicki and Smythe].”
Here was my conversation Thursday with Dolphins developmental quarterback Luke Falk.