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Could Dolphins receiver Jaylen Waddle break this rookie record?

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Miami Dolphins rookie wide receiver Jaylen Waddle might already have the NFL lead for best touchdown celebration after debuting the “Waddle Waddle” penguin-esque dance in Sunday’s 33-10 win over the Carolina Panthers.

Waddle could also be on track to break an NFL rookie record for most receptions.

Anquan Boldin, the former Pahokee High and Florida State star, established the mark in 2003 when he became the league’s only rookie to reach triple digits in a season. He hauled in 101 receptions for the Arizona Cardinals that year.

Through 12 games, Waddle has 77 receptions. That’s an average of 6.4 catches per game. It puts him on pace to surpass Boldin’s record in the traditional 16 games, let alone the 17th regular-season game that was added to the NFL schedule this year. Waddle’s pace would put him at 109 receptions through 17 games.

Waddle said on Wednesday he’s “not necessarily” concerned about reaching milestones like 100 receptions or 1,000 yards this season.

“I’m just going to go out there and really try to handle business the best I can, honestly,” he said. “Not try to do too much, just do what I’m asked and just play the game.”

The team will value it, if it helps lead to more victories down the stretch. The Dolphins (5-7) enter Sunday’s game against the New York Giants (4-7) on a four-game winning streak.

“If we’re losing, it’s worthless. If we’re winning, it’s great, added accolades,” said fellow receiver Mack Hollins. “In my opinion — I’m sure he’s kind of on that similar page — winning will make it all better. If he breaks this record and we lose out, ‘Cool, you got a record, but you’re also watching other guys play from your couch.’”

From the yardage standpoint, the 759 he has thus far puts him on track to surpass 1,000. That’s not breaking any rookie records, however. Just last season, Minnesota Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson went for 1,400 receiving yards, which broke Boldin’s mark of 1,377. There’s an even higher AFL mark as Bill Groman had 1,473 yards in 14 games for the 1960 Houston Oilers.

With Waddle catching his fourth touchdown of his rookie season on Sunday, that’s not anywhere near touching Randy Moss’ record of 17 set in 1998 with Minnesota.

It was known Waddle could see a high volume of catches in the run-pass option offense with former Alabama teammate Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback. A lot of it was destined to come off short, underneath routes, and it showed early with his miniscule yards-per-catch average earlier this season. That number has slowly increased with bigger-yardage plays coming from Waddle in recent weeks. He had a career-long 57-yard catch and run against the Panthers, and he also had a sideline catch that went for 35 yards through the air in the Nov. 11 win over Baltimore.

“He’s a fast player,” Hollins said. “He knows how to get in and out of cuts. He knows how to attack a ball when it’s in the air. He understands offenses. He understands defenses. That stuff is critical in being successful. As the season goes, he’s getting better because it’s coming quicker. Now, he’s able play loose. He’s able to hit higher speeds. He’s able to get in and out of breaks quicker.”

“The way he gets open, speed, the toughness, the want-to,” said fellow slot receiver Albert Wilson of what has impressed him about Waddle. “He wants to go out there and be the best guy on the field every time, and to be so young, to kind of just want to take that role and put it on himself, it’s awesome to see. It’s just exciting. He can get the ball. He can do whatever he wants with it.”

Veteran but oft-injured wideout DeVante Parker could be making a return this week from injured reserve after going through a second practice this week on Thursday — this one a walkthrough.

That could go one of two ways in impacting Waddle’s record chase. On one hand, fewer targets could go Waddle’s way with another receiver Tagovailoa has to get back in the mix.

In the five previous games Parker played, Waddle had 29 receptions. That’s just under six catches per game, not far off his average. Those games included two against the stout defenses of the Buffalo Bills and one against the New England Patriots but also had the outlier of his career high in catches in a single game, 12 against the Las Vegas Raiders — for just 58 yards.

On the other hand, Parker could become another threat opposing defenses have to worry about, opening up easier opportunities for Waddle alongside him.

The Dolphins also await for a potential return of Will Fuller from injured reserve for his finger injury. The one full game Fuller played was that Sept. 26 overtime loss to the Raiders when he, Parker and Waddle were all together but with backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett throwing the football.

As for Waddle’s end-zone waddle, he’s looking to improve in that area.

“People been sending me doing it next to a penguin,” he said, “and I got some work to do.”

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