Friday, August 17, 2012

Dolphins RBs' aspirations may exceed opportunities


Dolphins running back Reggie Bush has set his sights high for this season. Back in May, he declared he wanted to win the rushing title.

But he's not the only guy in Miami's backfield with high expectations for himself.

“That’ll be fine, as long as I get my 1,000 yards,” second-year tailback Daniel Thomas said, according to Brian Biggane of the Palm Beach Post. “That’s my goal.”

Having Bush leading the league in rushing and having Thomas amass 1,000 yards is a highly unlikely scenario, especially in the Dolphins' new West Coast offense that focuses on short passes rather than pounding the ball. But Miami has to like the confidence both are showing, especially Thomas.

The former Kansas State standout rushed for 212 yards in the first two games of his rookie season but struggled down the stretch and finished the year with a disappointing 3.5 yards per carry average. Now through his first full NFL training camp, he hopes to overcome the durability and confidence issues that slowed him last season.

The poor performance has drawn concerns about the young tailback's long-term prospects, but a solid 2012 campaign will get him back on track.

Right now, Thomas has to establish a role for himself. He is a large back who doesn't run particularly powerfully and isn't reliable in short yardage. Working in his favor is good vision and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

For those reasons, Thomas isn't going to get more touches than Bush. Bush is a superior runner and receiver at this point, and he will be on the field most of the time.

Bush should thrive in Joe Philbin's offense, which is built around exploiting matchup advantages and getting players in space. Few players in the league are as tough to matchup with or are as dangerous in the open field.

Though Thomas has lofty aspirations, expect Bush to remain the centerpiece of the Dolphins rushing attack.

But for a guy like Thomas still striving to find his spot in the offense, there may not be a better player to learn behind.

“You see how hard he works,” Thomas said. “And I’m learning to be a more patient runner from watching him.”

Follow Sean @seanldonovan
Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily