FOXBORO, Mass. — DeVante Parker sure looked the part Monday.
The Patriots receiver, acquired via offseason trade with the Miami Dolphins, delivered the standout play from New England’s OTAs opener outside Gillette Stadium. During 11-on-11 drills, Parker burned depth corner Justin Bethel for a long touchdown that elicited cheers from his Patriots teammates. The play, which featured Brian Hoyer at quarterback, might’ve been a product of a coverage bust, but it still was impressive.
It also was a fitting end to an all-around impressive day for Parker. He looked big, athletic and sure-handed while displaying the crisp route-running he’s known for. Yes, Monday’s pads-less practice was a glorified walkthrough, but Parker nevertheless looked like the top wideout on the field.
“That touchdown today was dope,” Kendrick Bourne said during a post-practice news conference. “He’s just an awesome player, man. Awesome attitude. He just fits in well, you know? No complaining, just coming in to work. That’s how we work here — there’s no complaining. We know how it goes down here. So, if you come in with a bad attitude, it’ll show its results.
“He’s gonna get the good results because his attitude is right.”
“Yeah, I’m really happy with the group we have,” Jones said. “I got a chance to work with all of them in the offseason at various locations, here and all that, so I’ve been very pleased with everybody. They have a tight group once again. DeVante’s done a great job coming in, working in a new system, there’s some familiarity, you know, with the Dolphins and all that, but we’re happy to have him and anybody that can contribute to our team.
“We’re ready to go, so it’s a good group and we just have to keep elevating each other and push each other and compete.”
Of course, the question isn’t whether Parker can be a dangerous weapon in the Patriots offense. He has the size and talent to be a productive receiver anywhere but also possesses the work ethic necessary to excel in New England.
Rather, the concerns largely center around whether the 29-year-old can provide Bill Belichick’s favorite ability: availability.
Since being taken 14th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, has missed 20 games, including seven last season. His only fully healthy campaign came in 2019 when he racked up 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns — with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen throwing him the ball.
So, Parker has far more to prove than just showing out well in a late-May OTA practice. Still, Monday was an encouraging start for a receiver who will be under the microscope all season.