Steven Parker made his first NFL start Sunday, and that was a big deal for the first-year Dolphins safety. That it came in Dallas, not far from his hometown of Jenks, Oklahoma, and with his family in the stands at AT&T Stadium made it even better.
“I can tell you the feeling was a blessing, just having my family there and everything, basically being almost like a home game for me, me being from Oklahoma and everything,” Parker said. “It was everything that I imagined.”
Parker, who started at safety alongside Bobby McCain, joined the Dolphins on Sept. 1 when he was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams, with whom he spent the 2018 season on the practice squad.
He played 16 snaps in each of the first two games before getting the promotion against Dallas.
A second-team All-Big 12 selection at the University of Oklahoma in 2017, Parker said he wasn’t nervous about his first NFL start because he got used to playing in big games in college.
Parker finished with three tackles with a pass defensed on a third down to force Dallas to settle for a field goal in the first quarter. He said he was overall fairly happy with his performance, though he’s looking for more.
“I felt like it was a solid game, but there’s always something to improve on,” Parker said. “Not just as far as individually but as a team. We’ve got tao improve on a lot of different things. That starts in practice throughout the week. We’re going to go ahead and hit all those things starting on Wednesday.
“I just wish I would have caught that interception. Also wish that we would have got the W. We’re still working to improve toward that.”
Getting into the action
Rookie free agent guard Shaq Calhoun made his NFL debut Sunday when he came in to replace Danny Isidora in the second quarter.
“It felt good going out there against the Cowboys,” Calhoun said. “The Cowboys were my favorite team growing up. As a young child, I had their uniform growing up, so it felt to get my first playing time against the Cowboys.”
Calhoun, who was inactive for the season opener and was active but did not play in Week 2 against New England, wound up playing 42 of the Dolphins’ 72 offensive snaps against Dallas.
The rookie free agent from Mississippi State said the biggest difference between college and the NFL was blocking for the passing game.
“I was anxious at first because I had to get a feel for the speed, but then after that I got settled,” he said. “It was really just on the passing downs because run blocking in the games it’s always the same, but once you get in the passing down it’s very different in the NFL than in college. There’s a lot going on.”
“The speed and all the games and twists that defenses run, it’s just different.”
Calhoun said he felt he did pretty well in his first NFL regular season action, but isn’t looking too far ahead.
“I’m just taking it a day at a time,” he said. I’m just glad I’m still here being an undrafted free agent still on the 53-man roster.”
Both of them left the game against Dallas in the first — Davis with an arm injury and Isidora with a foot injury — and neither returned.
“Just in talking to them today, I think we’re just going to take this day-to-day,” Head Coach Brian Flores said. “Hopefully we can get them back this week. But, yes, it’s early in the week and those guys are very upbeat about the possibility of getting back into practice and playing. We’ll just take it day-to-day.”
Flores said that wide receiver Allen Hurns, who left the game in the first quarter, is in the concussion protocol and was on his way back to South Florida on Monday after being kept in Dallas following the game.
“Our medical staff, obviously I’ll defer to them from that standpoint,” Flores said. “I think they do a great job and were doing everything they can with Allen, leaving him in Dallas and felt like that was the best thing for him. He’s on his way back and from what I understand, he’s doing a lot better.”
Linebacker Sam Eguavoen, who played in front of family and friends at AT&T Stadium, was on the field for a team-high 84 snaps — 72 on defense and 12 on special teams. He and Baker were the only two Dolphins players to play all 72 snaps on defense, while CB Eric Rowe played 71 and CB Xavien Howard played 70.
On offense, linemen J’Marcus Webb, Michael Deiter and Daniel Kilgore played all 72 snaps, while wide receivers DeVante Parker and Preston Williams each played 69.
For the first time this season, special teams captain Walt Aikens did not play the most snaps on special teams, that honor going to Chris Lammons. He played 22 special teams snaps, one more than Aikens. Vince Biegel, James Crawford and Patrick Laird were next with 19 special teams snaps.