One of the biggest changes for the Miami Dolphins this coming season will be at the running back position. For the last two seasons Reggie Bush has fulfilled the role of lead back, but they allowed him to go through free agency, and he will be carrying the ball for the Detroit Lions next season.
This leaves a hole in the Dolphins’ backfield that should be filled by third-year back Daniel Thomas, but his performance over the last two seasons and the acquisitions via each year’s draft say different.
Thomas shows flashes of competence, such as the 107-yard debut in Week 1 of the 2011 season, but whether due to injury or shared carries, that was the only game in which Thomas was able to break the century mark. His 3.54 yards a carry over two seasons is not the greatest number to have on a resume, and he now has an extensive history of concussions.
Coming in to Miami, the knock on Bush was his durability, but during his two years with the Dolphins it was Thomas who continued to be sidelined by injuries. This is one of the biggest reasons he may not be the answer in 2013.
The other big reason is the other options the Dolphins have at the position. In last season’s draft, Miami stole Lamar Miller in the fourth round, and although he saw limited action in his rookie year, Miller was very fun to watch when he was on the field. He led the team in yards per carry (4.9) and his one touchdown came on an impressive 15-yard scamper through the Oakland Raiders defense. The Dolphins allowed Bush to sign elsewhere knowing they had a young player with a similar skill set in Miller.
Miami may have gotten another steal in last month’s draft when they took Mike Gillislee with the 164th overall pick, late in the fifth round. Gillislee spent four years in the Florida Gators‘ backfield, but he made very little noise until last season when he racked up 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns. How his game will translate to the NFL is still unknown, but early rumors have him in line to be Miller’s backup this season.
If Miller starts and Gillislee backs him up, then where does Thomas fit into the equation?
With OTAs and training camp just around the corner, there is still the possibility Thomas could win over the coaching staff. But there is no guarantee he will still be on the roster at that point, and it is becoming clear that he will be among the many veterans who will be fighting for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
Jeff Everette covers the NFL, specifically the Miami Dolphins, for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @jeverettesports, “like” his page on Facebook, “Trust” him on Sulia, or join his circles on Google+.