Former Oregon star running back LaMichael James, signed to Miami’s practice squad Tuesday, said the Dolphins gave him no assurances that he will be promoted to the 53-man roster but he believes his skills are well suited to their offense.
“I feel I can do some things to help the offense,” he said. “I really like the zone offense scheme. I want to try to earn a job.”
James, selected 61st overall by San Francisco in the 2012 NFL Draft, had a standing offer to join the Dolphins’ practice squad since working out for them two weeks ago. He initially waited to see whether a spot on a 53-man roster opened here or elsewhere before accepting Miami’s practice-squad invitation.
“I told them I was ready to be a Fin,” he said.
Did the Dolphins give him any idea of an eventual promotion to the 53-man roster?
“It depends on me, how hard I work in practice,” he said. “Being on the practice squad is good for me. I think I will benefit from it for a little bit. Come time when I get moved up, I’ll be ready to play.
“Nothing is given. I can’t come in here and say I was drafted in the second round. … I’ve got to learn the offense and get used to the Florida heat, develop a relationship with the coaches and get a feel for it.”
James, 5-9, requested his release from the 49ers after the season opener because he wanted more of an opportunity to play. He had only 41 rushing attempts in two-plus seasons for San Francisco and averaged 4.5 yards per carry.
“I don’t feel like I have anything to prove,” he said.
James averaged 28.4 yards on 26 career kickoff returns and 10.9 yards on 23 punt returns. He ranked 10th in the league in punt return average last season and said the Dolphins will allow him to handle some returns in practice.
“He’s got a lot of skill, talented guy,” coach Joe Philbin said. “He’s got speed. We’ll have a chance to work with him a little bit and see what comes of it, but we like his athleticism, his playmaking ability.”
James, who finished third in 2010 Heisman Trophy balloting, is the sixth running back under contract with Miami. The five others are on the 53-man roster, including Knowshon Moreno, who has an elbow injury. The Dolphins remain optimistic Moreno will return at some point this month.
▪ Moreno and defensive lineman Randy Starks were the only players who sat out the portion of practice open to the media. Starks’ availability for the Green Bay game is undetermined, but he said the injury will not keep him out long-term.
▪ Defensive end Gerald Rivers and defensive back Rod Sweeting were released from the practice squad to make room for James and rookie Utah tight end Jake Murphy, who is the son of former Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy.