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Zach Miller Hype a Long Time Coming

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 28:   Zach Miller #80 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates with Justin Griffith #36 after scoring a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers during an NFL game on September 28, 2008 at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Paula LehmanCorrespondent IJuly 7, 2009

Finally, some good news about the Raiders in mainstream media rankings.

Tight end Zach Miller is gaining prowess with columnists from CBSSports.com and ESPN that tout him as the player to fill the void left by Tony Gonzalez.

Drafted by Oakland in 2007, Miller had 44 catches in his rookie season, which he then bumped up to 56 last season. Entering his third season with the troops, the words "AFC Pro Bowl" are starting to float around.

Miller was taken on the same draft year as JaMarcus Russell and, as ESPN reports, Al Davis is hoping the two "grow old together."

Miller, at 6'5" and 225 pounds, is not only a great target, but a dominant runner once he does make a catch. This puts him in the top 10 of Pete Prisco's list of tight ends on CBSSports.com. Prisco says Miller, assuming Russell gets him the ball consistently in 2009, can only move up from the No. 9 spot he secured on the list.

Miller continues to improve as he gets the hang of NFL play and the respect of his quarterback. In his first season, he led the NFL rookies with 444 yards and three touchdowns. He played all 16 games, including Russell's first start, where the combo foreshadowed its future success with Miller catching a season-high eight passes.

Russell continued to hit Miller in 2008, improving his numbers to 56 receptions for 778 yards. Though he only scored one touchdown last season, as Russell's apparent wingman, I'm betting he doubles last year's performance.

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