FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — While he may have only been at the podium for a few minutes, DeVante Parker has brought the noise to Patriots training camp. The veteran wide receiver’s play through the first two sessions has opened eyes during the infancy of camp and has drawn rousing applause from those fans in attendance, something that Parker and the rest of his teammates have enjoyed feeding off of.
“Big energy,” Patriots cornerback Jalen Mills said when asked what one of his newest teammates brings to the table. “Big, tall guy. I really liked yesterday when he scored that touchdown. He kind of turnt the crowd up a little bit. You want to see that from those guys on the other side of the ball.”
Mills is referring to a particular highlight-reel play from Parker on Day 1 of camp. During competitive red zone drills Wednesday, the 29-year-old was able to use his 6-foot-3, 218-pound frame and muscle down catches in tight coverage. After one of the more impressive grabs, he gestured towards the crowd and they predictably went wild.
That carried into Thursday when Parker, who was acquired by New England in an offseason trade with the Dolphins, made arguably the catch of the day. In a similar red zone drill during Day 1, Parker hauled in a back-shoulder fade from Mac Jones. The receiver was able to stop on a dime, separate from Mills on the left side of the end zone, twist, and bring in the catch while keeping his feet in bounds.
“Mac saw where the defender was and he put it in a great spot,” Parker said of Thursday’s catch. “I was just able to come down with it.”
While early, the rapport between Jones and Parker has been encouraging through the first two practices as they’ve connected on a number of targets. When asked about his developing chemistry with Jones, Parker said: “It’s not difficult at all. We’ve been working with each other for a minute now and we just have to bring it out here now every day. That’s all it is.”
Of course, there are plenty of caveats to this hot start given where we are on the calendar. There are no pads and the contact is limited because of it, which naturally gives an advantage to the offense and the skill positions. That said, it’s certainly been a promising start for Parker as he begins his Patriots tenure.
“It’s good to have him, he had a good spring,” Bill Belichick said before Thursday’s practice. “We’ll just take it day-by-day here and not try to evaluate guys based on one play or one practice or one period. There’s going to be a lot of football played and we’ll see how things turn out over an extended period of time. Consistency and production.”
In 10 games played for Miami last season, Parker caught 40 of his 73 targets for 515 yards and two touchdowns.