MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When the Miami Dolphins let running back Reggie Bush head to the Detroit Lions in free agency, the focus of the Fins' running game fell on a former University of Miami star who is ready to take center stage.
The Dolphins believe they have Bush's replacement in Lamar Miller. While he carried the ball just 51 times last season, it's assumed that the Fins will turn over the starting job to the dynamic Miller.
"He has very good athletic ability. He's got really good speed. He can pass protect. We feel like he has an ability to pass protect," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. "It took him a little while to get the responsibilities down, get his adjustments down, last year. I think at the end of the year he was very sound in his pass protection. We think he has good hands, and he can catch the football. He has the skillset that you are looking for.
"Now we've got to see how he performs when he gets more carries in a game than he's used to."
The Dolphins are hoping Miller can replicate his last full season as a starter, which was two years ago at the University of Miami. As Hurricane in 2011, Miller ran for 1,272 yards and was the primary offensive weapon for an average UM offense.
Miller's talent made the Dolphins feel confident about letting Bush leave via free agency. Still, the Fins have insurance in former second round pick Daniel Thomas and 2013 draft pick Mike Gillislee out of the University of Florida.
But, the focus is on Miller as he tries to complete the South Florida trilogy by starting for Miami Killian High School, the Hurricanes, and now the Dolphins.
"I really don't pay too much attention to it," Miller said. "I just try to pay attention to what the coaches have been telling me and try to get better. I hear people talking about it, but I try not to get into it. Stay humble, stay focused, stay on what the team wants me to do."
Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill feels confident in having Miller alongside him in the backfield. But, Miller's pass protection will have to be top notch as the Dolphins deploy more three-wide receiver looks and having a new offensive lineman at nearly every position across the line.
"He is a guy where we talk to our team about ball security ... his knowledge of the system has definitely increased. He appears to be a lot more comfortable in what he is doing. He doesn't appear to be much indecision in his play. He's doing a nice job."
Miller worked throughout the offseason with fellow former Hurricane star Frank Gore, now of the San Francisco 49ers. He insists that the burden of expectation will not be a problem for him, since he's used to generating plenty of attention from fans around his hometown.
He also believes that he's much better already.
"I'm fast, I'm quick and I'm patient," Miller said.
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