DeVante Parker had his most productive game of the season against the Seattle Seahawks, but it was the way he did it that spoke loudest about the Miami Dolphins wide receiver's career development.
In short, this was a day when Parker gutted it out and maybe played at less than 100 percent after leaving the game with an ankle injury in the first quarter and coming back. But he still found a way to be productive after returning, which maybe wouldn't have happened early in his career.
After never playing a full season in his first four NFL seasons, Parker now has a run of 20 consecutive games and he basically said Monday he's learning that having to play with injuries comes with the territory.
“I would say I was just younger back then and I wasn’t used to injuries like that all of the time," Parker said. "It was something new for me, but now as you get older, you realize that it’s just something that you can play through.”
Parker ended up with 10 catches for 110 yards against Seattle, marking the first time this season and the ninth time in his six-year career he reached triple digits.
But Parker had only two catches for 14 yards when he left the game with an ankle injury in the first quarter. He was back by the start of the second quarter and went on to have eight more receptions for 96 yards.
Parker said before the start of the 2019 game and again before the start of this year that his goal had nothing to do with receiving numbers but rather being able to play 16 games.
So maybe that played a role in his ability to come back for the Buffalo game in Week 2 after he had to leave the season opener at New England because of a hamstring injury. And it definitely was on his mind after he left the game against Seattle in the first quarter.
“Yeah, it was actually because I don’t have time to be missing out on games and little stuff like that, little tweaks and stuff like that," Parker said. "I just feel like I have a need, I’ve got to come back in.”
There's no downplaying the significance of having Parker in the lineup for the Dolphins, who simply aren't as dangerous offensively without their clear-cut No. 1 receiver.
Through the first quarter of the 2020 season, Parker ranks in the top five in the AFC in both receptions (24) and receiving yards (279).
“DeVante is a great player for us, one that I’m always going to rely on especially in tough situations," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said after the game against Seattle. "And try to get him the ball and rely on him to win one-on-one. He did some good things versus zone coverage today, just finding the spot and running after the catch. But he’s a big part of what we do. And it was good to get him back in the game today.”
Parker always had the ability; that was obvious from the time he arrived as the 14th overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft out of Louisville.
Now that he's gotten the "availability" part of the equation in place, he continues to fulfill his potential.