The Miami Dolphins signed RB Knowshon Moreno this offseason in hopes that the former Denver Bronco would push Lamar Miller for the team’s No. 1 running back job in 2014. While Moreno has been sidelined due to a recent minor knee surgery, Miller had been looking like the team’s top option at running back; that is, until Miller hit the field to open preseason play.
Miller has rushed for a total of 14 yards on seven carries this preseason behind Miami’s revamped offensive line. He has looked soft and afraid to get tackled. The concern for Miami is not the play of their third-year tailback, but the lack of depth behind Miller.
Youngsters such as Orleans Darkwa, Damien Williams and Mike Gillislee have all shown talent in spurts but have lacked consistency in their moments carrying the football. So-called bruiser Daniel Thomas has been sidelined due to a nagging injury and has yet to play this preseason. Miller and company are leaving the door wide open for Moreno to burst straight through it and steal the top spot on the depth chart.
Moreno, who was recently activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list (PUP), has looked like a dog in practice recently showing the burst, quickness and toughness that the other backs on Miami’s current roster seem to lack. He’s fresh off a career year with Denver during which he tallied 241 rushes for 1,038 yards (4.3 AVG) and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Moreno also has the experience needed to be a threat in the backfield for QB Ryan Tannehill and this Miami offense desperately searching for a runner.
Moreno is also the best receiver the team currently has at the running back position — 60 receptions for 548 yards and three touchdowns in 2013 — which could give him a leg up on his competitors for the No. 1 back job. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor seems to want a back who can not only run between the tackles, but can also be a threat as a pass catcher, which perfectly describes Moreno and his qualities. Moreno could be in line to start this season as early as Week 1, if he is healthy enough to do so.
And while Miami may have brought Moreno in to compete with Miller to run more of a two-back system, the Dolphins may be better off giving the bulk of the touches to Moreno over Miller due to the veteran’s drive, passion and ability to fight for every yard he possibly can. It’s been awhile since Miami has had a back willing to fight as much as Moreno. Throw in the fact that Moreno is perhaps Miami’s best pass protecting back, and the team may have found themselves their feature back this offseason.