Miami Dolphins

Lamar Miller injury shows vulnerability of Miami Dolphins running game

Running back Lamar Miller of the Miami Dolphins reacts after his second-quarter touchdown against San Diego at Sun Life Stadium on Nov. 2, 2014.
Running back Lamar Miller of the Miami Dolphins reacts after his second-quarter touchdown against San Diego at Sun Life Stadium on Nov. 2, 2014. Getty Images

After a week of limited work in practice, Lamar Miller is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game in Detroit, though the belief is the running back expected to play.

Miller, one of the most efficient backs in the league with 4.9 yards per carry, sustained a left shoulder sprain in last Sunday’s win over the Chargers. He’s started every game this season for Miami and leads the Dolphins in rushing with 518 yards on 106 carries.

Coach Joe Philbin didn’t reveal much Thursday as far as how confident he is in Miller’s ability to perform at top level — after the game Sunday, Miller couldn’t lift his left arm over his head — but said he looked good and moved well at practice.

“We’ll just take it one day at a time,” Philbin said.

If anything, Miller’s limited participation in practice all week highlighted the Dolphins’ vulnerabilities at running back. With two backs on the injured reserve list, only Damien Williams and Daniel Thomas are on the active roster along with Miller.

They average 2.8 and 3.7 yards per carry, respectively.

Meanwhile, running back LaMichael James remains on the Dolphins’ practice squad after signing with the team on Sept.30.

James, a standout Oregon running back and second-round draft pick in 2012, requested release from San Francisco earlier this season in search of a better fitting offense and more opportunity to play.

In his six weeks on Miami’s practice squad, James said he has been humbled, and his perspective on football has changed.

“I think of it more as a business,” James said of the sport. “It just is, I’m going to leave it at that. I play with a chip on my shoulder, you know, I feel like I have to go out there and earn my keep.

“You’ve just got to be humble, be patient. And that’s the hard part, how eagerly you want to be on the field, how you want to be out there contributing, and really you just have to look at it like you play your game in practice. You have to try to get better, you have to be ready because everybody’s one snap away, I’m one snap away.”

Philbin said he’s seen progress from James as far as learning the offensive scheme — Philbin’s offensive coordinator Bill Lazor worked in Philadelphia under Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, who headed the program at Oregon while James was there.

The back feels more at home every day in Lazor’s system, and leans on Mike Pouney as well as Louis Delmas for constructive criticism.

Although the Dolphins haven’t given James indication of an impending call-up to the active roster, even with Miller’s shoulder trouble, Delmas has little doubt James would be prepared.

“He’s got a lot of talent, and his skill at his position makes us improve our game,” Delmas said. “He’s that good of a running back. He can catch the ball, he can run very fast, he can block. It’s very hard to tackle a back like that.

“When we end up activating him, I know he’ll be able to do something in the game for us also. Without a doubt.”


The Dolphins’ offensive line will be hurting Sunday as the team faces one of the best defenses in the league.

After sitting out last weekend’s win over San Diego, guard Daryn Colledge was listed as doubtful with a back injury for the game in Detroit. Tight end Dion Sims will sit out his second consecutive game with a toe injury.

Linemen Koa Misi (ankle) and Kelvin Sheppard (hip/groin) are both listed questionable.

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