Jun/19/14 08:07 AM Filed in: Lamar Miller
After landing on our "Making the Leap" list last summer, Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller hopes to make good on those expectations one year later.
The third-year back has spent the past three weeks as the starter in Bill Lazor's Eagles-inspired attack. It's no surprise to see Miller earning snaps ahead of the plodding Daniel Thomas, but free-agent signee Knowshon Moreno was expected to lead the way.
Moreno, though, has toiled behind Thomas with the third- and fourth-string, telling The Miami Herald last week that he's "definitely not there" physically.
"I've been competing my whole life," Miller said Tuesday, per the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "Whether it was at the University of Miami or in the NFL. (Competition will) bring the best out of all players. ... I want to get better as a player, too, so I'm up to the competition."
As Chris Wesseling pointed out in last year's "Making the Leap" feature, Miller led all runners at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine with a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. His burst and change of direction are tantalizing, but when handed a bigger role last season, Miller's rookie average of 4.9 yards per carry tumbled down to 4.0.
It's a fool's game to put too much weight into backfield pecking order in June. The lasting change in Miami, though, should be an offense that attacks opponents the way Philadelphia did in 2013. Chip Kelly's Eagles finished first in rushing yards (2,566) and yards per attempt (5.1) last season after ranking 13th in total ground yards the season before with the same stable of backs.
Lazor told Around The League this month that he plans to unleash a "pretty deep group of proven guys" in a running attack that figures to suit Miller's speed.
"Every single day we're pushing them to see them make big plays in the running game," Lazor said. "And I think that's what separates some teams in this league, is the ability to get those backs in space."
Miami's runner-friendly scheme, as much as anything, tells us Miller is going to eat come September.