Coming off his second full season in the NFL, Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller knows more than anyone that his 2014 campaign will be his most important one yet. Growing up in South Florida and playing college ball with the hometown Miami Hurricanes, the former high school All-American was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft by the Dolphins. He has been a fixture in the Miami backfield ever since. However, this year, Miller will have some company, as the team signed former Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno to a one year deal in March.
The former All-ACC track star sat down with The Finsiders Greg Likens to discuss what he took away from his sophomore season in 2013, Bill Lazor and the new offense and the addition of Knowshon Moreno.
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.”
Last year, Ryan Tannehill was sacked a league high 58 times, a number that must go down if the Dolphins are to be successful this season. 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. Some wondered if the signing would effect Miller’s confidence, but the young running back hasn’t seen it that way, saying that having a talent such as Moreno around has been a welcomed addition to the offense.
“That’s a good thing,” said Miller, “bringing in another talented back to help the running back group has made us a better unit. He has a lot of talent and I can learn from him. I didn’t take it as a bad thing, I took it as a way to help take my game to the next level… Everybody’s goal is to start and I think bringing in another guy like Knowshon will help the running back position and take it up to another notch.”
Another offseason addition that’s taken Miller’s game up another notch has been offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who’s new scheme 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.”
With training camp a mere ten days away, there is no doubt that Miller, much like the team, is about to enter a pivotal six-month stretch. But for now, the third year running back still uses what down time he has left to reflect on the opportunity he’s been given, and cherish the fact that he’s still doing what he loves in the only place he’s ever called home- Miami.
“It’s a dream come true,” Miller said. “A lot of guys don’t get that opportunity to play high school football here, then college football here, and then be in the NFL here, so I just take it as a dream come true. To play here in front of your family and friends where you’ve been playing your whole life is exciting.”
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