Miami Dolphins

Lamar Miller ready to carry a bigger load for Miami Dolphins

Running back Lamar Miller runs for yardage as linebacker Zach Vigil closes in during practice on Day 7 of Miami Dolphins Training Camp on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 in Davie.
Running back Lamar Miller runs for yardage as linebacker Zach Vigil closes in during practice on Day 7 of Miami Dolphins Training Camp on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 in Davie. el Nuevo Herald

Famously quiet Lamar Miller didn’t say a whole lot to Bill Lazor in 2014.

Expect that to change in their second year together — particularly if the Dolphins’ featured running back believes he’s not being featured enough.

When asked if he might go to Lazor and demand the football on a particular series, Miller replied:

“Yeah, I’m going to start doing that,” Miller said. “Usually, I’m a team guy, so whatever the coaches call, I just try to do my assignment. But if I feel like we can run the ball this year, I’m just going to try to open up a little bit more.”

If so, Lazor might be more stunned than angered.

And not even Miller, who rushed for 1,099 yards in a breakout 2014 season, knows how the conversation would go.

But ... “I’m going to have to find a way say it,” Miller added.

For Miller, now in his fourth season out of the University of Miami, it’s just the latest transformation. He has already changed his body — Miller’s playing weight has bulked up to 223 pounds — and wants to change his impact in the huddle.

He now has the credibility to do so. After battling for playing time his first two years, Miller became the Dolphins’ clear-cut lead back when Knowshon Moreno went down with a knee injury in 2014.

Miller had the eighth-most productive rushing season in franchise history and his average (5.1 yards per carry) was second to Baltimore’s Justin Forsett among qualifying running backs.

“This is the year,” center Mike Pouncey said. “He did really good with yards per carry last year. Just want to get him over 1,000 again this year.”

Considering Miller — who’s due to earn just $1.5 million this year (less than 31 other running backs) — is in a contract year, he hopes that’s the case. And it should be, assuming he stays healthy and Joe Philbin gives him enough chances.

As a head coach, Philbin has never allowed a running back 250 carries in a season, let alone 300; Miller acknowledged that the Dolphins are a “running back by committee” team.

On Thursday, Philbin said that he is not fundamentally opposed to giving one back the vast majority of carries — if he can handle it physically.

But Miller’s body of work — he has had 20 rushes in a game just once in his career — suggests the Dolphins believe that less with him might be more.

“The ultimate objective is scoring points on offense, however we have to do to do that and whatever personnel we have to utilize,” Philbin said. “If one person can help us do that and giving him [22] carries a game to get 350 carries, I have no problem doing that.”

Maybe Miller can be that guy. He has already debunked the myth that he isn’t built for short-yardage situations.

Miller converted on 11 of his 14 third-down rushing conversation attempts from 1 or 2 yards last seasons.

“I feel like I’m an all-around guy,” Miller said. “I feel like I can do everything. ... It’s just a mind-set, knowing that you have to get that tough yard. Put your head down, shoulders square, get those 1 or 2 yards.”

Lazor was sold on Miller doing that job after the very first series of the 2014 season.

“We got the ball in the red zone early and he put his shoulder down,” Lazor said “He just pushed that thing in there and got the first down. I thought he played with that mind-set all year. So to me those third-and-1 situations, he understood it. He knew that it was a challenge and rose to the occasion.”

And now, Miller has the confidence to tell his coach that he will rise to the next one.

RUNNING ON PLENTY

Best yards-per-carry averages in NFL in 2014 (minimum 50 attempts):

PLAYER

ATT.

YDS.

AVG.

Russell Wilson, Seahawks

118

849

7.2

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers

104

639

6.1

Justin Forsett, Ravens

235

1,266

5.4

Cam Newton, Panthers

103

539

5.2

Lamar Miller, Dolphins

216

1,099

5.1

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