Monday, June 24, 2013

Miller expected to make big leaps in pass pro


Miami Dolphins' second-year running back Lamar Miller, who is set to assume the starting duties after Reggie Bush's departure in free agency, sparingly saw the field during his rookie season in part due to one major flaw in his game.

A flaw that, according to the prime beneficiary of the skill, he's improved dramatically during this offseason.

“He’s picking up pass protections a lot better," quarterback Ryan Tannehill recently told The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson. "Now that he’s got that, he’s going to be a great player.”

Expectations for Miller, both from the media and the player himself, are running high now that the former Hurricane stands to receive the majority of the carries. But nearly as valuable to the offense, and vital for a running back trying to stay on the field, will be his ability to help protect the passer.

With Miami's new, expensive weapons in the passing game and the evolving offensive line situation, keeping the quarterback upright figures to be a especially important responsibility of the guy lined up in the backfield.

The Dolphins asked Miller to do so just 17 times last season, according to Pro Football Focus. He only gave up a single quarterback pressure in that miniscule sample size, but the lack of opportunities spoke volumes about Miami's comfort with him in that role.

"I think he has really progressed from a mental standpoint as a professional in his second season," Philbin said. "We like a lot of the things he is doing in pass protection. We have to temper our enthusiasm based on how he does in pads, but I think is understanding of how he fits in the protection scheme is very good."

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