OXNARD, Calif.—It’s the beginning of practice, a time when the Dolphins do individual position drills to help players get warmed up, and DeVante Parker’s hands already sting.
Parker and his fellow receivers are running out routes on a cool, clear California afternoon, and one after another they return to the back of the line grumbling about the fastballs being fired at them. Kenny Stills smirks. Jarvis Landry laughs as he catches another one. Same thing every day. Parker’s particularly annoyed because he has to reach down to his knees for one.
The man launching passes at the center of this exercise is not Jay Cutler. It’s not a practice squad quarterback or a 20-something arm the Dolphins hired to replicate a pro’s throws. These sidearm rockets are coming from 61-year-old grandpa Clyde Christensen, who also happens to be the offensive coordinator, and this might very well be his favorite part of the job.
It’s also the least favorite part of Parker’s.
“I think he eased up a little bit today, but yesterday he was throwing 100 miles per hour,” Parker complained. “If you were two yards away and he’s throwing it 200 miles per hour, you’d be hurting too.”
The legend of Clyde the Cannon grows. Next it’ll be 300.
It’s the least surprising thing in the world to Christensen that Parker would say that, too.
“Oh yeah,” Christensen said, predicting it hours before Parker spoke. “DeVante loves to whine. And I remind him that I’m 75 years old. I hardly think I’m throwing it too hard for him. But he does love to whine that you’re too close and you’re throwing it too hard.”
That’s the fulcrum of this ongoing argument between Christensen and his receivers. It’s not that they can’t handle his velocity, it’s that he unleashes it from such close proximity that his fingertips might graze their facemask on the…