In the 2011 NFL Draft the Miami Dolphins traded up to get into the 2nd round to select Daniel Thomas. A few months later they made a trade with the New Orleans Saints to acquire Reggie Bush. In the 2012 NFL Draft the ‘Phins took Lamar Miller in the 4th round. Word is that in this Sunday’s game vs the New York Jets all 3 will dress and play for the first time as a 3-headed monster.
We know Bush is a given. He will get the lion’s share of the work as he is the clear starter, plus he is en fuego (5 out of last 6 games he has gone for 100+ yards). Thomas missed Miami’s week 2 W over the Oakland Raiders due to a concussion he sustained week 1 in a L to the Houston Texans. Miller was a healthy scratch in the Texans game, but with Thomas missing the Raiders game (Thomas sustained a concussion in Texans game which kept him out of Raiders game) it was Miller taking the ball and running with it as Bush’s back-up (pun intended!).
Thomas has passed the concussion tests and is cleared to return. His career started hot (first 2 games of his career 41 carries for 202 yards…4.9 yards per carry…4 catches for 37 yards, 1 of those catches was his only career TD). He then injured his hamstring and things have not been the same since. In the dozen games that followed that great start Thomas has just 390 yards on 127 carries (a poor 3.0 yards per carry). Thomas was supposed to provide the thunder to Bush’s lightning, but he was an underwhelming 3 for 13 on 3rd-and-1 conversions in 2011. On this roster a guy like rookie fullback Jorvorskie Lane could get the 3rd-and-short carries in 2012.
Miller made his NFL debut last week, and for the most part it was impressive. I like Miller. I consider him a home-run threat (in fact he did break off a 19 yard run in his debut game, and also broke off a 15 yarder for a TD). Miller likely showed enough as a back-up for Bush that he should dress this week. For certain the coaching staff will be working the film study with Miller all week because he was poor picking up blitzers vs the Raiders. That is one thing vs Oakland, but to be sloppy in pass-protection vs the aggressive Jets can/will lead to massive problems for rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the offense.
Against the Jets the ‘Phins will want to establish the run so as to limit the pressure/attack that the Jets can put on Tannehill. That could be why we are hearing the rumors that all 3 RBs will play. I personally would like to see some screens for Bush (and Miller) as a way to make the Jets blitzers pay for their over-aggressiveness. At some point we will see (I hope) Bush in the slot as a wide-receiver. If that comes this week then I would expect Thomas to get the nod as the RB in those formations (until Miller can show he can hang in the backfield and provide pass-protection).
Miller can also contribute on special teams if Marlon Moore cannot play this weekend (Moore is a special teams star, but he is hampered with a hamstring issue currently). For my money the arrow on the playing time for Miller should be pointed upwards, while Thomas’ arrow would be pointing down. Thomas needs to pick up his game, and increase his production. His salary is manageable for the organization, but it does increase the next 2 seasons so he will need to prove his value at the NFL level.
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