DAVIE— Lamar Miller's waiting for his time, using the same patience required to seek and hit the right hole on a successful running play.
The Miami Dolphins rookie tailback has had some success carrying the pigskin in the three games he's played on offense so far, gaining 126 rushing yards and averaging a team-leading 5.5 yards per carry on 23 attempts.
But the opportunities have been sparse early because he's third on the depth chart, and admittedly rough around the edges.
But Miller thinks Sunday's home game against the St. Louis Rams (3-2) might provide an opening, an opportunity to showcase himself seeing as how Reggie Bush is battling a sore left knee he admits has impacted his performance, and Daniel Thomas is sidelined by a concussion.
The former University of Miami standout intends to seize the day, and show the coaches he's addressed the shortcomings in his game.
"I've got to continue to know my opponent better, watch more film and learn what I need to work on to get better in practice," Miller said. "I'm working on being more physical running the ball, and in pass protection. I've got to hit the holes and stop dancing with the rock.
"Sometimes I'm too patient," said Miller, whom numerous teammates praise based on what they've seen from practices, and his few in-game opportunities. "This is a fast league. I'm not going to run away from everybody. I've got to hit it and get positive yards."
Last week offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said at some point later this season he plans to settle into a rotation of two tailbacks, which would leave someone out of the mix if injuries don't become a factor. That means this could be Miller's opportunity to prove he's a suitable pass blocker.
Bush, a six-year veteran who also struggles with pass blocking, said the key for Miller is to "play fast mentally" when it comes to his blocking assignments.
"I think Lamar does a great job in pass protection. I think that's one of his strong suits," Bush said. "I think the most important thing for him is fundamentally being in the right place. He can take a guy on pretty well one-on-one and so, for him, he's just going to have to make sure he's in the right place."
Coach Joe Philbin, who has established a reputation for being candid about his players, stressed that Miller's played well in his opportunities. But he also pointed out there's more to the tailback position than running with the ball.
"I think the running part come naturally to him," Philbin said. "Before you put a running back in the game, [lining] him up in the backfield, you have to make sure his pass protection responsibilities are taken care of. That's probably as important as anything else."
He'll likely get that chance against the Rams, and can't afford to miss on a block like the one he whiffed on against the Raiders, which got Ryan Tannehill hit.
Bush, who leads the team with 417 rushing yards and three touchdowns, hurt his left knee during the Sept. 23 overtime loss to the New York Jets and had his participation in Thursday's practice limited.
He's started every game since, gaining 115 rushing yards on 35 carries, but openly admits he's not 100 percent.
"100 percent? I don't even know what that is any more. As far as being 100 percent from, I guess, from a health stand point, no. That's part of this league. You learn to play with injuries and some of the great players who've played in this league [and] played this game have learned to play well with injuries," Bush said.
"If I'm out there, I'm doing my best regardless of if I have little injuries here or there."
But if Bush isn't getting the job done the Dolphins might make it Miller time.
"I have a lot of room for improvement as a player and if I get more physical in pass protection I'll be out there," Miller said. "I know my assignment I've just got to get better at being more physical."