Lamar Miller vs. Daniel Thomas: Latest Updates on Dolphins RB Battle
UPDATE: Thursday, Sept. 5
Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald passes along a statement from Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin discussing the decision to start Lamar Miller over Daniel Thomas:
Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said the decision to start Lamar Miller over Daniel Thomas in Sunday’s season opener was “the starting point, really,” and that both backs had a strong preseason.
“I think they’ve improved, both of them, and we definitely need those guys to perform well for us,” Philbin added. “I think [Miller] played well. I think he caught the ball well, ran the ball well. I thought Daniel did as well. It’s very, very close.”
UPDATE: Tuesday, Sept. 3
Lamar Miller is listed ahead of Daniel Thomas on the Dolphins' official depth chart.
Prior to the release of the depth chart, Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald passed along a quote from Miller discussing what it would mean to be listed as the starting running back for the Dolphins:
'It would be a great accomplishment,' Miller said, when asked about that scenario earlier in the day. 'Everybody dreams about it.'
For fantasy owners, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman shed light on Miami's running back situation, as documented by Beasley:
'I think because they are so different they offer ... a different dynamic when in the game,' [Mike] Sherman. 'I think there will be a challenge defensively to be able to put both running backs on the field separately.'
Beasley also provided the final preseason stats for Miller and Thomas:
In five games, Miller had more yards (72 to 52), more touchdowns (1 to 0) and a better yards-per-carry average (4.2 to 2.7) than Thomas.
Miller was even a comparable pass blocker, according to Pro Football Focus, which had been a weakness early in his rookie season.
Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman described the competition as “neck and neck” to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, and pointed out that both players would receive “plenty” of touches.
If anything, this shows that head coach Joe Philbin is planning for a timeshare in terms of regular-season snaps, but someone is eventually going to have to start when the ‘Phins take the field on Sept. 8 against the Cleveland Browns.
ESPN’s James Walker believes that Miami is being too cautious with Miller, the team’s fourth-round pick in 2012.
He frames his argument around the fact that the potential starter has rushed just nine times in three preseason games and been given 51 carries during his 13-game career.
Considering he turned those touches into 250 yards—good for 4.9 yards per carry—and a touchdown, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about Miller as a No. 1 running back in 2013, but only if he is allowed a longer leash by the coaching staff.
On the other hand, Thomas has outgained Miller this preseason in terms of yardage and still has some upside.
The 2011 second-round pick out of Kansas State is going into his third season in the league and is desperate to prove he belongs.
Thomas holds career averages of just 3.5 yards per carry, but did score four touchdowns last year in limited work and may be able to build upon it as a short-yardage and goal-line bruiser.
Miller is still likely to be a more traditional back for the ‘Phins this season. He should get slightly more touches, but expect to see plenty of Thomas on third downs, in the red area and as a change-of-pace back.
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