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DeVante Parker catching on in New England with some big receptions and loads of confidence

Patriots training camp report: Pats and Panthers fight at joint practice in Foxboro
Patriots training camp report: Pats and Panthers fight at joint practice in Foxboro 03:30

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have had their share of talented receivers over the years, but the offense has lacked a big pass-catcher who can go up and fight for the ball for some time now. That is about to change thanks to the arrival of DeVante Parker.

The 6-foot-3 Parker will give Mac Jones a nice big target downfield in the quarterback's second NFL season, one that isn't afraid to go battle for the pigskin. And in Parker's eyes, those 50-50 battles sway greatly in his favor.

"More like 80-20," he said confidently after Tuesday's joint practice session with the Carolina Panthers in Foxboro. 

That confidence and play-making ability was on display during Tuesday's session. Parker made a handful of nice catches off deep balls from Jones, fighting with defenders on a number of them. He veteran was winning battles in tight spaces throughout the day.

That should should give Jones plenty of confidence whenever he sees Parker downfield this season.

"He puts it in the area and I'll go up and get it," said Parker. "If the ball's in the area, it's mine."

Going up and fighting for the ball is just part of who Parker is as a player. He said that it's been part of his game since high school and it's an area that he's continued to improve in throughout his seven-year NFL career.

He credits his high school basketball days -- he was a three-sport athlete in high school, participating in track as well as football and basketball -- for helping him get so good at going up and bringing down the football.

"Gotta go up and get rebounds, so it has something to do with coming out here and snagging a football out of the air," Parker said casually.  

Parker played in just 10 games last season for Miami, finishing with 40 catches off 73 targets. He caught 61.2 percent of the passes that went his way in 2020 (63 receptions off 103 targets), and has hauled in 58 percent of the passes that have gone his way throughout his career.

He's now part of a crowded Patriots receiving corps. But Parker has quickly separated himself from the rest of the pack with his ability to not only fight gravity, but to battle with receivers and come down with the ball. It will be a much-welcomed addition to the New England offense in 2022.

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