By Jeremiah Thermidor
It’s Miller time.
Miami rookie Lamar Miller will be the No. 2 running back behind Reggie Bush this weekend when the Dolphins face off against the Rams. Miami’s regular backup Daniel Thomas has been ruled out for the second time this season due to a concussion. Thomas suffered his first concussion this year in Miami’s Week 1 loss to Houston when he collided with an opponent. He missed the matchup versus the Raiders but returned the following week against the Jets. Thomas’ most recent concussion occurred in last Sunday’s win over the Bengals when he was hit by Cincinnati linebacker Rey Maualuga.
Miami head coach Joe Philbin said the decision regarding when Thomas would return solely depended on the prognosis from the medical staff. Evidently, Thomas’ concussion was too serious to take any chances. Thomas has rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries this season. He’s done an okay job in short-yardage situations and has caught four passes for 57 yards, averaging 14.3 yards per catch. However, through the four games Thomas has played, he’s proven to be somewhat of a liability losing two fumbles on the year. Those mistakes in addition to his injury woes could prompt the Dolphins coaching staff to move Miller up the depth chart above Thomas, especially if the rookie has a monster game against the Rams.
Miller, 21, put up a season-high 65 yards and a touchdown on 10 attempts when he stepped in for Thomas the first time. But he’ll likely be given even more carries considering Bush himself is not yet 100 percent with a lingering sore knee. Bush, of course, suffered the knee injury in Miami’s loss to the Jets. He hasn’t been the same since but has shown steady improvements over the past two weeks. He is listed as probable for Sunday’s game on the injury report.
Bush, a seven-year veteran, recognizes Miller’s potential to be successful in the league and discussed the young tailback’s strengths and what will be expected of him moving forward. “I think Lamar does a great job in pass protection,” Bush said Wednesday emphasizing the importance of Miller performing well as a blocker. “He can take a guy on pretty well one-on-one.” “He’s going to have to make sure he’s in the right place. He’s going to have to make sure he’s playing fast mentally so that he’s not getting caught out of position.” “He’ll be fine and he’ll be more than ready.” In addition to Miller, rookie fullback Jorvorskie Lane will also see more action, especially on short-yardage plays. Lane has shown that he’s effective as a pass catcher as well.
Dolphins starting corner Richard Marshall will be out for the second straight week with that same nagging back injury. Marshall injured his back during Miami’s Week 2 matchup against the Raiders. But the injury forced him to miss a game for the first time last Sunday. Nolan Carroll, who did a respectable job in Marshall’s absence, will get the start again this weekend. “He made a nice contribution to the victory,” Philbin said during Thursday’s press conference. “Hopefully, he can follow that up and display some consistency and keep improving.” Carroll is listed as probable for the game with an Achilles injury which limited him in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. He did, however, practice in full on Friday.
Miami starting linebacker Kevin Burnett is listed as questionable for the game with an ankle injury. He practiced all week through Thursday but was added to the injury report on Friday. He’ll likely see some action on Sunday. But if his injury worsens backup linebacker Jonathan Freeny would get the start. Wide receiver Brian Hartline (Quad) and safety Reshad Jones (Back/Heel) are listed as probable for the matchup. They both participated in the full practice on Friday.
As for the Rams, starting wide receiver Danny Amendola (Shoulder), linebacker Mario Haggan (Thigh) and tackle Rodger Saffold (Knee) will all miss the game. Amendola suffered a collarbone injury in St. Louis’ win over Arizona in Week 5. He is expected to miss up to one or two months with the injury which could have been life threatening. Chris Givens will get the start in Amendola’s absence. Miami’s secondary certainly will benefit, considering Amendola is St. Louis’ best receiver by a mile, as he’s been targeted more than any other player. Haggan, the backup linebacker behind Rocky McIntosh, injured his thigh early in St. Louis’ game against the Cards. The main concern with Haggan gone is a lack of depth at the strong side linebacker spot. Saffold’s status this week is no surprise. He hasn’t played since mid-September when he suffered serious knee damage in a win over the Redskins. Wayne Hunter has done a fine job so far in Saffold’s absence.
Players listed as questionable for the Rams include defensive tackle Matt Conrath (Knee), defensive end William Hayes (Back) and fullback Brit Miller (Ankle). Both Conrath and Miller practiced in full on Friday and will play on Sunday. Hayes’ injury is a concern, considering he didn’t practice at all on Friday and was just added to the injury report. Whether Hayes play or not may be a game-time decision. Starting quarterback Sam Bradford (Knee), safety Matt Daniels (Thigh) and defensive end Eugene Sims (Head) were all listed as probable on the injury report.
The Miami Dolphins (2-3) will play host to the St. Louis Rams (3-2) on Sunday at 1 p.m. eastern.
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Jeremiah Thermidor is a freelance writer covering all things Miami Dolphins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.