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Slow Start: Where is Patriots Off-Season Treasure DeVante Parker?

The New England receiver's inactivity has him in an area of unwanted Patriots history.

The New England Patriots prepared for a new franchise quarterback like any nurturer would: they planned meticulously, sought the advice of statistics and experts, and finally found the perfect name ... Mac Jones. 

Like every expectancy, however, not everything has gone according to plan. New England invested a lot into new receivers before and after Jones' arrival. Alas, the team's higher investments are trending for all the wrong reasons.

DeVante Parker, for example, was granted $14 million in guarantees after coming over from a rare trade with a division rival. But the former Miami Dolphins hasn't been the big-play threat the Patriots had in mind for Jones in the season's first two games. 

During the Pats 1-1 start, Parker's reception total matches his jersey numeral ... 1. He's also been targeted only four times, with the lone grab a meaningless nine-yard gain against his former team in Week 1. 

More Jones targets for Parker, in fact, have been intercepted. Parker was the intended receiver on each of Jones' aerial turnovers thus far, giving the quarterback at least one lost pass in each of his last four games dating back to January. 

Comparisons are already being drawn between Parker and another high-profile bomb for the wrong reasons. Even N'Keal Harry, the Patriots' most recent post-Super Bowl first-round pick, posted better numbers in his first two career contests. Though his New England career was defined by injuries and inconsistency, Harry (now a resident on Chicago's injured reserve) put up 28 yards on four receptions, one of which was the de facto game-winning score of a 13-9 win over Dallas in November of his rookie year. Byron Murphy, Jawaan Taylor, and Deebo Samuel were among those who were chosen in the immediate five picks after Harry. 

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There is, of course, plenty of time for Parker to find his groove in the Patriots' system, which has primarily been sustained by a dual power rushing attack of Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson as well as timely grabs from Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor. 

Parker, to his credit, feels like chemistry is just around the corner and remarked that he's fine with a lack of production as long as it results in a win for a team desperately seeking lasting offensive clarity. The Patriots (1-1) prevailed in that regard on Sunday, using touchdowns from Agholor and Harris to escape from Pittsburgh with a 17-14 triumph. 

"I'm progressing pretty well. I'm doing what they're asking me to do. That's all you can do. Do your job," Parker told Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston. "It's still early in the season. As long as we're getting W's and we're winning as a team, that's really all that matters to me."

Parker will partake in his first Gillette Stadium home game this Sunday afternoon, when the Patriots welcome in the Baltimore Ravens (1 p.m. ET, Fox). 


Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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