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.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 2:33pm
Walker: James is an interesting project for Miami. He was a hot name coming out of Oregon in 2012 and the 49ers took him with the No. 61 overall pick. But the smaller James never fit San Francisco's power running game and he was released in his third season. The Dolphins picked him up, but James played in only two games last season and rushed for 9 yards on three carries. This is a huge year for James to prove himself. He's had a full offseason with the Dolphins to learn the offense, and the backup tailback position is wide open behind starter and 1,000-yard rusher Lamar Miller.
Walker went on to say that James is a better fit for Miami’s spread scheme under offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, and the running back has made some nice plays this spring. But James will compete for reps with a crowded group of running backs that includes Miller, rookie Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams and Mike Gillislee. Miami may keep only three tailbacks on its active roster and it could come down to Williams or James for the final spot.
Dolphins GM Dennins Hickey said “we were very excited” that running back Jay Ajayi “was still there in the fifth round. He brings the ability to play all three downs. He’s a power back but yet still has elusiveness.”
Ajayi dropped in the draft because of concerns his knee, but he’s a first or second round talent and an all-around back that will complement Lamar Miller well in Miami. It’s a good spot for Ajayi, and the physical player from Boise State will be considered a prime sleeper candidate this year as a tandem back if his knee holds up. Miller is still an attractive RB2, but it's clear that the Dolphins haven't fully committed to him.
Starting running back Lamar Miller (1,099 yards rushing) is adept at what he does best, being a fast back who can make some breakaway runs. But the Dolphins need someone to grind out some tough yards, and that’s one thing Ajayi does well.
Ajayi will likely be the favorite to assume the role of power runner without much competition in training camp.
Miller's workload is under pressure now with Ajayi in the fold. He was expected to go much earlier, so don't read too much into the cost of the pick. The Dolphins were looking for a back to complement Miller and they found one in Ajayi.
He didn’t break enough tackles, so he put on seven pounds of muscle in the University of Miami weight room to get up to 225 pounds.
And he didn’t catch enough passes (38 in 2014, with six drops).
And he runs routes for Ryan Tannehill with the team’s other young skill-position players.
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 is looking to shore up the position in the offseason. It's good to hear that he's putting on some muscle and is working on his flaws to hopefully take his game to the next level.
Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:02pm
Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas (knee, doubtful) missed practice all week and is doubtful for Week 16. If Thomas can’t play, Damien Williams would serve as the primary backup to Lamar Miller, and Miller becomes a safer start.
Thursday, December 18, 2014, 6:14pm
Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas (knee) missed practice again Thursday. If Thomas can’t play, Damien Williams would serve as the primary backup to Lamar Miller, and Miller becomes a safer start.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014, 9:07am
The Dolphins have a nickel and dime passing game, an injury-decimated offensive line that is better suited to run block than pass protect, and a tailback in Lamar Miller who has one of the highest yards per carry averages (4.8 per attempt) in the NFL.
YET, the Dolphins, which have the seventh highest rushing average in the NFL, are consistent about abandoning the run game, even when it is working.
It happens each and every game the Dolphins don't have a lead going into the fourth quarter. The run game will be effective in the first half, like the 57 rushing yards the Dolphins produced on 13 first half carries against the Ravens. You know, the first half where the Dolphins owned a 10-7 lead and controlled time of possession.
Then the Dolphins will dump the rushing attack like it was a cheap date who farted at the dinner table.
The story goes on to point out the Dolphins gave Miller three carries in the second half of Sunday's 28-13 Ravens loss, which features Miami holding a third-quarter lead early. The Dolphins got the ball first in the third quarter and ran the ball zero times, it continued. On the second possession of the second half Miller's first carry gained 10 yards, and then his next two carries each produced 2-yard losses. From that point Miami was pass happy. The writer went on to say that it doesn't take much for the coaches to pull Miller from the game either, something fantasy owners are likely familiar with. The way the Dolphins use their backs is frustrating for Miller owners, especially when the once-cut and now-back Daniel Thomas remains an option. Based on all of this, Miller is a risky play this time of year, perhaps even in a good matchup.
LB Jonathan Freeny (hamstring), CB Jamar Taylor (shoulder)
TE Charles Clay (hamstring, knee), CB Cortland Finnegan (ankle), T Nate Garner (illness)
T Ja'Wuan James (neck)
T Oday Aboushi (shoulder), LB Antwan Barnes (knee), G Willie Colon (knee), RB John Conner (groin), WR Eric Decker (toe), DE Leger Douzable (ankle), LB David Harris (shoulder), RB Chris Ivory (shoulder), S Jaiquawn Jarrett (calf), RB Chris Johnson (knee), C Nick Mangold (shoulder), RB Bilal Powell (illness), DT Sheldon Richardson (back), QB Michael Vick (right wrist, illness)
With Clay unlikely to play again, Dion Sims will get the start. He had four catches for 31 yards filling in last week. The good news for Miami is RB Lamar Miller and WR Mike Wallace are both listed as probable. For the Jets, TE Jace Amaro is out as he goes through concussion protocol. Meanwhile, WR Eric Decker, RBs Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson Bilal Powell and QB Michael Vick are all probable in what could be a tough matchup against a solid Dolphins defense.
Friday, November 28, 2014, 6:04pm
Dolphins RB Lamar Miller (knee) took full practice reps again Friday. Miller’s status will be updated on Saturday, though he’s expected to play in a tough matchup, though the Jets have a few injuries along the defensive line that may make this matchup more palatable.
With Bush out yet again, Theo Riddick can be dialed up as a Sneaky Start, especially in PPR formats. In the four games that Bush has missed, Riddick has averaged 4.8 catches for 53 yards and 0.5 TD. That’s 13.1 FP in PPR formats, or about what Lamar Miller has averaged as the #12 RB this season. We’re not expecting that level of production, but he can be used as a low-end RB2 or a flex in PPR and as a RB3-type in standard. Joique Bell also gets a bump with Bush out. He has averaged 18.5 touches when Bush has been out. The Lions are not running the ball well, but the volume is there.
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