Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tannehill assesses tailbacks corps without Moreno


Ryan Tannehill was on the ground a lot last season.

The sophomore quarterback was sacked 58 times last season, a number that's become a torturous reminder of the Miami Dolphins' offensive line woes a season ago. Coupled with those struggles up front, however was also some troubling play in the running game.

Miami's ground attack amassed 1,440 yards on the ground last year (90 yards per game on average), 25th overall in the league. Neither of the team's two main running backs -- Lamar Miller or recent returnee Daniel Thomas -- had more than 750 yards, and now both will be once again in charge of leading the Dolphins' rushing attack after losing Knowshon Moreno to an elbow injury.

Despite the injury to Moreno -- who had already rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown this season -- Tannehill is confident the running back corps can continue to be successful in his absence.

"Losing Knowshon is tough," he said this week, via "The physical presence he brings to the running game, his attitude in the huddle; he’s a very intense guy, we’ve talked about it several times. He brings energy to the huddle. He’s going to be a tough guy to replace, but we have to be able to do it.

"We have to be able to use the running backs that we have, Damien (Williams), Lamar, we just signed Daniel Thomas, Orleans (Darkwa). Those guys have to be able to fill in as a group and take over that yardage. I think they can do it."

With the problems surrounding him last season, Tannehill was forced to attempt nearly 600 passes last year, 10th most in the league. But the Dolphins' revamped line, anchored by veteran Branden Albert, has impressed thus far, and Miami's backs have taken advantage. 

Before his injury, Moreno was averaging nearly six yards a carry, while Miller has averaged nearly five in his limited duties. The question now will be whether Miller can take on that leading role, and whether Thomas -- who's sporting a new number -- can start fresh and put forth the type of performance Miami was hoping for when they drafted him back in 2011.

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