How DeVante Parker Flashed ’80-20′ Ability In Patriots Joint Practice

'If the ball is in the area, it's mine'

by

August 16

FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots’ marquee offseason addition enjoyed arguably his best practice yet Tuesday.

DeVante Parker was quarterback Mac Jones’ top target in New England’s first of two joint practices with the Carolina Panthers, pulling down a team-high five receptions on seven targets and flashing the contested-catch ability he’s known for.

Two of Parker’s grabs were highlight-reel downfield tosses. First, he beat CJ Henderson on a fade route, snatching the ball from above the Panthers cornerback. Later, he elevated between two Carolina defenders to snare a Jones deep ball.

Parker also caught three shorter passes from Jones and drew a defensive holding penalty.

“If the ball is in the area,” the soft-spoken wide receiver declared after practice, “it’s mine.”

Never a gifted separator, Parker has made a career out of consistently winning so-called 50-50 balls. Only that’s not how he views them.

“Mine are more like 80-20,” he said.

The numbers bear that out. Though Parker regularly ranks at or near the bottom of the NFL in average separation, no NFL player has more tight-window receptions over the last five seasons, per Next Gen Stats.

Tuesday’s practice was another illustration of what Parker — acquired from the rival Miami Dolphins in an offseason trade — can bring to New England’s offense. Last season, with Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor leading their receiving corps, the Patriots did not have a wideout who could consistently win in contested-catch situations.

After a dry spell in the middle of training camp, Parker has reemerged of late, notching at least one eye-popping reception in three of the last four practices. His five receptions against Carolina were a new personal best, surpassing his previous single-day high of three.

Oft-injured throughout his Dolphins tenure, the 6-foot-3, 219-pound pass-catcher has stayed healthy this summer and said he feels more nimble thanks to a change in his training regimen.

“I’m a little bit more quick than I was,” Parker said. “I’ve spent a lot of time stretching more than I have in the past. Just trying to stay loose and keep my body right.”

If he can stay on the field, Parker projects as one of the Patriots’ most dangerous offensive weapons this season.

NESN.com’s coverage of New England Patriots preseason is presented by Cross Insurance, protecting your team since 1954.

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Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
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