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Will playing DeVante Parker be another decision made late?

The Miami Dolphins have for a long time been slow in reacting to changes that simply needed to be made.

The firing of Kevin Coyle? One year too late.

The firing of Joe Philbin? Two years too late.

The firing of Jeff Ireland? Should have gone with Tony Sparano.

And, if you are a loyal reader of this space, you know the late action isn't limited to the firing of upper management or coaches. This franchise is often late making moves on the field.

Benching Dallas Thomas for Jason Fox last year? Happened three games after it seemed clear Thomas wasn't meant to be a left tackle.

The cutting of Daniel Thomas? Two years too late.

The cutting of Michael Egnew? One year later than it should have been.

The benching of Gibril Wilson took too long. Playing Cameron Wake took too long -- remember he was clearly the team's most explosive pass rusher in 2009 but the team was still giving more snaps to Joey Porter because it wanted to avoid a major locker room problem that happened anyway.

This seemingly happens time and time again. Early last year no one knew if Jelani Jenkins could play. But everyone knew Phillip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe could not based on what they did in 2013. And yet, the only thing that freed Jenkins from the bench was injuries to practically all the starting linebackers.

And I state this history to remind you that today Greg Jennings remains a Dolphins starting wide receiver.

And DeVante Parker is not.

And the question is why is it taking so long to make a move that is inevitable?

Is it health-related because Parker had that foot surgery in the offseason and missed much of training camp?

"My foot's 100 percent," Parker said this week.

Is it because Parker, a rookie, lacks confidence or ability?

"I think I can make big plays," Parker said.

So when is Parker going to be unleashed?

"I'm not sure yet," Parker said. "I wouldn't know."

Well, what better time than, you know, now? The Dolphins have a new head coach. The Dolphins have a new defensive coordinator. The Dolphins have a new offensive consultant. The Dolphins are trying to rebrand themselves as this competitive, tough, motivated, team.

And they're going to do that and keep the first-round draft pick with the big-play potential coming off the bench?

Look, there would be solid reasons for limiting Parker. Maybe he's just not that good. Or Greg Jennings is playing great ahead of him and the production demands he keeps getting more snaps. Or the offense is going great and changing things might affect chemistry.

Except none of those are true.

Jennings, a good man and solid leader in the wide receiver room, is not making plays so far this season. He has seven catches in four games. He's averaging 7.7 yards per catch. And his seven catches have come on 18 targets which means his catch percentage is 38.8 percent.

That catch percentage is the lowest in Jennings' career, with the previous career low coming his rookie season when he caught 43.6 percent of passes targeted to him. Most of his career Jennings has delivered a 60ish catch percentage, including last year at 64.1.

So the guy in front of Parker isn't performing at this point for whatever reason. And the guy in front of Parker is 32 years old. He's not the future. Parker is.

So why continue to fiddle around with something that has not worked and isn't likely to be the plan in the long run?

Anybody have that answer?

Parker is getting anywhere from 12-25 snaps per game. He has four catches on eight targets for 49 yards. That's a 12.3 yards per catch average.

Does he have the position nailed down? No.

Has his performance so far screamed play me? No.

But his ceiling is way up there. And everyone else's is lower.

So take a chance on potential.

Look, one of the problems the failed Joe Philbin era was known for was an inability to get young players quickly developed and into the lineup. Part of that problem was due to circumstances, such as Dion Jordan failing drug tests and being suspended and such. You can include youngsters being injured in their first training camps for also hindering things -- Jamar Taylor and Dallas Thomas were injured their first camps. And certainly DeVante Parker was.

But rather than simply shelve those players and wait until next year, it is up to coaches to not give up. It is their job to continue working to get something out of those players even as the rigors of weekly preparations demand attention to other players.

This new coaching staff (sort of) cannot commit the same mistake Philbin's did and make it the player's responsibility to get up to speed or be shelved. It is the organization's responsibility to develop every player as quickly as possible.

The way to handle this is not to bring him along slowly and cautiously and wait for next year. The Dolphins should not be handing out redshirt seasons. The way to do that with a player who has gifts like Parker, a player at a spot where the veteran isn't really performing, is to throw him in the pool and make him swim.

Now!

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