Lamar Miller is as soft-spoken as they come on the Dolphins. So back when he kept saying he wanted to be known as a complete back, it was easy to assume he was referring to polishing his inside running, which had been the knock on his game.
Yes, Miller is a far better inside runner than he was as a rookie in 2012, but that improvement may be surpassed by the leaps in his receiving skills. Never mind the statistics, which shout out he’s on a receiving roll entering Sunday’s game against the visiting Dallas Cowboys.
Miller the running back has become Miller the wide receiver in many of the four-wide sets. That’s ahead of veteran Greg Jennings and first-round pick DeVante Parker. Miller said on many days, he stays after practices and catches 50 to 60 balls fired from the machine. In games, he’s not dropping passes. He’s catching them in the flat, on the sidelines, even over his shoulder. With Jay Ajayi possibly stealing some carries, it could give Miller more chances in the passing game.
Miami had a field day on the ground, rushing 32 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-10 win against Tennessee. Lamar Miller finally got the number of carries he wanted, running 19 times for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Interim coach Dan Campbell — who sure sounds honest when he speaks — said he wasn’t making the calls.
“I let (Bill Lazor) run what he wants to run,” Campbell said. “I let (defensive coordinator) Lou (Anarumo) do what he wants to do. Every once in a while I may have an idea and I’ll give them my idea or my opinion on something, but I let them handle it. The last thing they need is me looking over their shoulder. But certainly if I have something to say, I’ll say it to them.”
Lazor has stressed the need for a balanced offense since he arrived in Miami last season. He was quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia in 2013 when the Eagles had one of the league’s most potent offenses and a balanced attack that featured running back LeSean McCoy.
Before that, Lazor was offensive coordinator at the University of Virginia — a school that was among the ACC’s worst running teams when he arrived and became one of the best at running the ball.
This all bodes well for Lamar Miller, who was the #9 RB in both formats in 2014 despite only averaging 15.9 touches per game. Miller had 21 touches for 118 yards and a touchdown against the Titans last week. And it wasn't game flow that allowed Miller to see that many touches -- he had 16 "looks" (carries plus targets) before halftime.
Expect more Jonas Gray on Sunday when the Dolphins play in Tennessee. Expect more DeVante Parker (and less Greg Jennings), too, as the Dolphins looks to shake things up beyond just the call to animal-ism that Dan Campbell is understandably making.
It’s time for Parker to see the field more. He was the No. 1 draft pick for a reason, and his size and athleticism are needed on an offense that’s having trouble getting into the end zone. He has just four catches for 49 yards.
Gray is a more physical back than what the Dolphins have. He has just 10 carries for 49 yards (4.9 average) this year. Lamar Miller has 37 carries for 131 yards (3.5 average). Damien Williams has five carries for 22 yards (4.4 average).
Miller should get an opportunity to run the ball, but this call for more Gray is a bit worrisome. Miller averaged 5.1 YPC last year, but is only generating 3.5 YPC this season. Did he suddenly forget how to run or are there larger issues with the offensive line and/or commitment to the running game? We're betting on the latter. As for Parker, he's worth a stash on the news that he should see more snaps ahead of Jennings.
Miller has been a fantasy disappointment this year, largely due to a lack of touches. He was the #9 fantasy back in both PPR and standard formats while averaging 15.9 touches per game. This year, he's only getting 11.8 touches per game. His YPC is down, which will generally lead to fewer touches, but that's a pretty steep decline. The Titans are yielding 4.4 YPC on the season, so there is opportunity for Miller to shine in Week 6.
Friday, September 25, 2015, 7:02pm
Dolphins RB Lamar Miller (ankle, questionable) took limited practice reps again Friday and is questionable for Week 3. He has a bad matchup with the Bills this week, though Dion Lewis was effective last week and Miller has a similar skill set. If Miller can’t play, Damien Williams likely sees the bulk of the carries. For what it’s worth, the Dolphins signed Jonas Gray from their practice squad, which may indicate that they’re worried about Miller’s availability for Week 3. Beat writer Omar Kelly said that Miller did “not look good running on that ankle” on Thursday.
Thursday, September 24, 2015, 6:16pm
Dolphins RB Lamar Miller (ankle) returned to limited practice reps Thursday after missing Wednesday practice. Miller is considered “day to day” per beat writer Armando Salguero. He has a bad matchup with the Bills this week, though Dion Lewis was effective last week and Miller has a similar skill set. If Miller can’t play, Damien Williams likely sees the bulk of the carries. For what it’s worth, the Dolphins signed Jonas Gray from their practice squad, which may indicate that they’re worried about Miller’s availability for Week 3. Beat writer Omar Kelly said that Miller did “not look good running on that ankle” on Thursday.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015, 6:12pm
Dolphins RB Lamar Miller (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Miller is considered “day to day” per beat writer Armando Salguero. He has a bad matchup with the Bills this week, though Dion Lewis was effective last week and Miller has a similar skill set. If Miller can’t play, Damien Williams likely sees the bulk of the carries. For what it’s worth, the Dolphins signed Jonas Gray from their practice squad, which may indicate that they’re worried about Miller’s availability for Week 3.
Cameron was dealing with a groin ailment. As for star running back Miller, he doesn't seem to think the ankle injury that forced him to leave the game will be serious.
According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Miller said "I'll be alright" after the game.
Even when he was on the field, Miller was relatively ineffective for the second straight week. He carried it 10 times for 14 yards, with another five touches coming in the passing game.
The Dolphins said in the offseason they'd be open to giving Miller more carries this season, but with his ineffectiveness and the offense's issues, that doesn't seem to be the case thus far.
Miller missed the second half of the team's loss to the Jaguars, although he did consider returning to the game. He will not need an MRI, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. In Miller's absence, Damien Williams took over as the lead back, carrying the ball just two times for five yards, but he did add a touchdown reception.
Miller left during the fourth quarter. He had run the ball 10 times for 14 yards before leaving with the injury. Damien Williams replaced Miller on the next drive.
Last season, Miller played in all 16 games, carrying the ball 216 times for 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Dolphins signed running back Raheem Mostert last week, but he is primarily a returner. Jay Ajayi, a 2015 draft pick, is on short-term injured reserve. Former Patriots running back Jonas Gray is on Miami’s practice squad. Williams would potentially be a nice pickup if Miller can't go in Week 3.
Friday, September 18, 2015, 6:37pm
Rams RB Tre Mason (thigh, questionable) took full practice reps all week and is questionable for Week 2. It looks like Mason will play. The Redskins limited Lamar Miller to 53 yards (on 13 carries), so it isn’t shaping up to be a great matchup.
Thursday, September 17, 2015, 6:09pm
Rams RB Tre Mason (thigh) took full practice reps again Thursday. It looks like Mason will play in Week 2. There is also talk that Todd Gurley may play as well, since the Rams have yet to rule him out. Benny Cunningham would be in line for a big workload again if Mason/Gurley are both out. The Redskins limited Lamar Miller to 53 yards (on 13 carries), so it isn’t shaping up to be a great matchup.
After having to earn a roster spot as a rookie free agent last summer, the main target this time for Damien Williams was solidifying his spot as the primary backup to starting running back Lamar Miller.
His two-touchdown performance against the Carolina Panthers on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte likely was a big step in that direction.
In the bigger picture, though, Williams is more concerned about continuing to improve as a running back and having that one year of experience has made a clear difference for him.
“Last year I was rookie,” Williams said. “It is kind of hard trying to catch up to game speed with guys who have been in the league five-plus years. This is going into my second year. I just have to get experience.”
Williams ended last season splitting time as the primary backup to Miller with Daniel Thomas, who wasn’t re-signed as a free agent. That left Williams to battle LaMichael James, Mike Gillislee and rookie fifth-round pick Jay Ajayi this summer for the No. 2 job.
Williams was listed as the second-team back when the first depth chart of the season was released, and he got the first carries after Miller in each of the first two preseason games, the story says. He looks to have the edge. James got some positive press a few weeks but Williams seems to be the favorite to get the RB2 job as it stands now. He could have deeper-league fantasy in the Dolphins offense under Bill Lazor, who worked in Philly for Chip Kelly.
Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi, a highly hyped fifth-round draft pick, is out with a hamstring injury.
It wasn’t immediately known who long he will be out.
Ajayi, who is competing for the No. 2 running back job, had just one carry for 12 yards in Friday’s scrimmage.
While it wouldn’t be a surprise for the Dolphins to keep four backs, VP Mike Tannenbaum said last week that Ajayi needs to work on his pass protection if he wants to be active on Sundays.
It was one of the biggest complaints for the 2014 Miami Dolphins.
Running back Lamar Miller, who had a career season, never got more than 19 carries in a game last season. In fact, Miller received more than 15 carries just four times. It was head-scratching considering Miller set new career highs in rushing yards (1,099), yards per carry (5.1) and total touchdowns (nine) last year.
But Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin told ESPN.com Sunday that the coaching staff is confident Miller can handle the load in 2015 and has no problem giving him more carries. Miller averaged just 13.5 carries per game in 2014.
“I would tell you I’ve never been in a meeting where I’ve said to [offensive coordinator] Bill [Lazor] or [running backs coach] Jeff Nixon or the offensive line coaches have said ‘Lamar can’t carry the ball 20 times a game. He can’t do it,’” Philbin said. “I’ve never heard that. That’s never come out of my mouth.”
Philbin explained that, at times, Miami’s offensive scheme also played a factor in Miller’s low carries.
“I would tell you, if he’s cranking and he got it 24 times a game and he’s healthy and he’s fast and he’s explosive, it doesn’t bother me one bit,” Philbin said. “But I think sometimes it’s not taken into account what our run game is all about. The run game is really about the runner, the screens and the quarterback keeping the ball primarily. We have some plays where we toss the ball to Lamar and that’s it. But a lot of them are [options], the highest percentage by far. I think that cuts into the carries a little bit.”
The story added Miller also put on about 15 pounds of muscle this offseason to handle the wear and tear from the position. This is an important year for Miller, who is playing in the final year of his rookie contract. The team drafted Jay Ajayi to round out the position, but Miller still comes in 14th on our RB list and could be a solid RB2 option in the third round of drafts. He finished ninth in both standard and PPR formats last year.
The Dolphins need a hard-running back, but there isn’t much diversity among this group. Most of them are speedy runners, with the exception of Jay Ajayi. The Dolphins also need someone who can move the chains in short-yardage and goalline situations and take some carries from Lamar Miller, who had more than 15 carries in a game just six times last season. There’s a suspicion Miller wears down after a certain amount of carries.
Miller had a good performance last season. But the Dolphins need a complementary back, especially in short-yardage and goalline situations. None of the reserves are pushing Miller, however. Ajayi, the fifth-round pick, wasn’t as strong in offseason workouts as the returnees.
Miller carried the ball 219 times for 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns while adding 38-275-1 on 52 targets in the passing game. This resulted in a #9 finish in both standard and PPR formats. Despite this, the team doesn't seem completely sold on Miller as a feature back and drafted Ajayi to shore up the position. It's good to hear that Miller is putting on some muscle and is working on his flaws in attempt to take his game to the next level. We don't expect Miller's touches to drop significantly.
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