The Miami Dolphins received some devastating news yesterday learning that C Mike Pouncey would miss roughly three months after hip surgery, while offseason acquisition RB Knowshon Moreno would miss 4-5 weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery. Moreno was thought to be Miami’s change-of-pace back, but with him recovering from knee surgery and not being in shape, the team needs fourth-year RB Daniel Thomas more than ever.
Thomas, a career 3.6 yard-per-carry runner, has never played in all 16 games and has only started three total during his three seasons with the club. His eight rushing touchdowns are nothing to brag about nor is his highest single-season rushing mark of 581 yards. But the former Kansas State Wildcat offers the potential to be a valuable player for Miami moving forward.
Moreno was to be the team’s short yardage back this season after signing a one-year “prove it” deal with Miami, but the former Denver Bronco came into OTAs out of shape; and now after requiring knee surgery, he’s not even a lock to make the 53-man squad anymore.
Thomas, on the other hand, has a chance in front of him that he must run with. The 6-foot-1, 235-pound back must begin to run with power and aggression to make a statement this season or he may be on his way out of town.
Thomas certainly has the size to be a capable third-down and short yardage specialist, but he needs to prove his worth this preseason by running angry. No, I’m not saying he needs to be Adrian Peterson nor am I saying he needs to be Ricky Williams, but Thomas needs to run as hard as Peterson and Williams did in their prime.
Thomas could be a valuable asset to this offense even if he can become the team’s pass protecting back. Last season, RB Lamar Miller struggled in pass protection, as did Thomas. QB Ryan Tannehill ran for his life last season, but with Miami’s revamped offensive line, the club is hoping Tannehill will have time to throw in the pocket.
A Miller and Thomas combo could work well in new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor‘s offense. Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles used LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown well together, which could work in a similar fashion for the Miller and Thomas experiment. Miller’s speed and elusiveness would work well to tire defenders out, while Thomas’ size and aggressive (hopefully) running would wear defenders down physically.
Thomas is surely on the roster bubble, but with the uncertainty surrounding Moreno and unproven backs behind him in Mike Gillislee and Marcus Thigpen, expect Thomas to be on Miami’s roster throughout the 2014 NFL season. Do not be shocked to see Moreno on the outside looking in when it’s all said and done.