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Dolphins game planning without DeVante Parker, hoping to plug him in

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker missed all of last week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons after sustaining an ankle injury the week prior against the Tennessee Titans, an injury that caused him to miss nearly all of that game. This week, it does not appear Parker will be ready to play as the New York Jets head to South Florida, but that does not mean the team has given up hope of getting their big-play receiver back.

“It’s hard to predict anything,” head coach Adam Gase said on Wednesday of Parker’s availability. “We’re still kind of working through some things.”

“We still just keep holding out hope,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen explained on Thursday when asked about Parker. “He’s had some Lazarus experiences out there where he’s showed up at the last second from the dead, so we still keep hoping. We’re so used to it now. I’m not saying that to be cute, we’re just used to it.”

Parker played in 15 games each of his first two seasons, often battling through hamstring issues and other injuries to get back on the field. He caught 82 passes for 1,238 yards with seven touchdowns in those two seasons. Thus far this season, he has 19 receptions for 236 yards with one touchdown in four games played.

If Parker cannot play this week, Christensen discussed the plan moving forward. “People fill in and you go and we get a big play out of ‘19’ (Jakeem Grant) and so that’s just the way it is,” I think the whole league, but certainly Miami, we kind of thrive on that stuff. It’s harder without him. It’s harder without him but guys fill in and go, and we’re kind of built for that, so that’s a plus.”

Christensen was then asked about having to build two different game plans for if Parker can play versus if he cannot. “Not really. We really just game plan it,” Christensen explained. “The trouble for us is just personnel-ing it up for Jakeem (Grant) to know, ‘Hey, if he plays and I may be in (three wide), I may be at Z. And if he doesn’t play, I may be at X.’ I think it does cause some cross training of those guys, but I don’t think it’s as much game planning as it is harder on the wide outs, it’s harder on the tight ends. ‘Where am I going to be lined up in this game?’ All of a sudden (Parker) shows up, he makes a miraculous recovery, he’s in the ball game and bang, now all of the personnel groups … Something that maybe you practiced out of a different way when you were the left receiver, now you’re at the slot on the right. I think it’s more of that, and it kind of falls on Jarvis (Landry) and Kenny (Stills) to get us lined up correctly. That’s where the pressure really comes, almost more than the call sheet or dialing them up for Coach Gase. I think you make your plans without him. If you get him, he’s a bonus; but you can’t afford to base a ton on him and then all of a sudden he doesn’t play. I think you kind of make your game plan without him and if he shows up, great. Then we’ll adjust from there. We’ll find some ways to give him a couple of shots and then he’ll just fit into the game plan.”

The Dolphins will kickoff against the New York Jets at 1pm ET Sunday. Parker’s status could be a story line to watch heading into the game.