Sometimes, it just takes a slight push to get a player to step up his game. In this case, it is quite possible Lamar Miller of the Miami Dolphins got two pushes from the same situation.
One of the last offseason moves the Dolphins made before the NFL Draft was ink former Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno to come in and challenge Miller and his running mate Daniel Thomas for the starting spot on the Miami roster. That should have been incentive enough for the former University of Miami back to kick his game up a notch or two. Then, while in camp, it was revealed that Moreno would need surgery on his knee, which would keep him out of action – allowing Miller to further distance himself from both running backs.
A story in phinsiders.com reveals Miller is trying to put the past behind him and focus on what needs to be done now and in the future if the Dolphins are to improve their chances of playing in the post season.
Last year was a mixed bag for Miller. He rushed for 709 yards and two touchdowns and continued to show his elite speed, but lacked in another key area: pass protection. According to Miller, this has been a focal point this offseason, telling The Finsiders that becoming a more physical runner and blocker has been a goal of his since the season ended nearly seven months ago.
“I have to better my overall game,” said Miller, “whether it’s my pass protection, making guys miss, or being more violent, just little things to help take my game to the next level… I have to protect [Ryan] Tannehill, and make sure he has more time to get our playmakers the ball.”
Another offseason addition that’s taken Miller’s game up another notch has been offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, in a new scheme that appears to play right into Miller’s biggest asset: His speed. Many hope the new offense can showcase Miller much like it did Eagles running back LeSean McCoy last season, and the early results have been promising, as throughout OTA’s and Minicamp Miller has looked more comfortable than ever.
“It’ll always keep the defense on their toes,” Miller said of the new scheme. “He’s [Lazor] doing a great job of getting the playmakers the ball and trying to help us reach success by making big plays for this offense. Hopefully we can win games with this new offense, and with him coming in and changing the scheme.”
All McCoy did was lead the NFC in rushing and was a key part of the Eagles passing attack as well, something that could make Tannehill a more dangerous passer in 2014.
In March, GM Dennis Hickey signed veteran running back Knowshon Moreno, who has spent the past two seasons protecting Peyton Manning. Moreno is coming off a career year, rushing for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, and is known around the league for his pass blocking. Now the team, fans and Miller will have to wait and see if Moreno can get his carries back once he is ready to play for the team or is more suited for a third down role.