Miami Dolphins: Mike Gillislee

The Miami Dolphins began their mandatory three-day minicamp Tuesday. This is the lead in to training camp, which will begin in late July.

Miami will have plenty of competition across the board and tough decisions to make throughout their roster. Here is a preview of one player on the Dolphins’ roster bubble:

Player: RB Daniel Thomas

2013 stats: 406 rushing yards, four touchdowns

Why he could make it: Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno are locks. But after that, Thomas remains the early favorite to land the No. 3 running back job. Thomas has the experience advantage competing with youngsters Mike Gillislee and Damian Williams. Gillislee and Williams will have to show a lot in training camp and the preseason. Thomas was Miami’s short-yardage back last year. Finding a niche again this year is his best chance to make the 53-man roster.

Why he couldn’t make it: Thomas is a draft bust who may be out of chances. He is a 2011 second-round pick of former Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland, who had a penchant for holding onto his draft picks, regardless of performance. But new general manager Dennis Hickey doesn’t have the same attachment to Thomas. There is a crowded field of running backs, and Thomas is firmly on the hot seat.

Chances to stick: 55 percent

Hope and Concern: Running back

June, 11, 2014
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Training camps are right around the corner. In the meantime, we'll examine key questions with the team heading into an important season.

Next, we take a look at Miami’s running backs, who were inconsistent last year.

Biggest reason for concern: Lack of explosiveness

The Dolphins have plenty of tailbacks in their stable. Lamar Miller is last year’s incumbent starter coming off a disappointing season. Knowshon Moreno is a free-agent signing who will push and compete with Miller. Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee are backups fighting for a roster spot. But the one common trait for all four of these running backs is a lack of explosiveness. The Dolphins don’t have any home-run hitters at tailback, which was reflective in their 26th-ranked rushing offense last season. Miller is Miami’s quickest tailback, but he flopped in his first year as a starter. He only had four carries of 20 yards or more last season and was not the workhorse Miami was looking for. Moreno is a former first-round pick who is coming off a career year with the Denver Broncos. But many of the wide rushing lanes Moreno had last season was due to the threat of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning under center. Moreno will not have those same holes this season. It remains to be seen if this group is good enough to take the pressure off third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Biggest reason for hope: Bill Lazor

There is a new sheriff in town running Miami's offense. The Dolphins hired first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor from the Philadelphia Eagles. Lazor is bringing some of the schemes and principles he learned from Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly to Miami, and the early reviews have been solid. What does this mean for Miami’s running game? It means Miller and Moreno have a chance to flourish this year in a more wide-open attack. Lazor is experimenting with some creative ideas this spring. One idea is to use Moreno and Miller in the same backfield. Lazor’s offense also uses a lot of formations, shifts and a quicker tempo to dictate to the defense. This style of offense is significantly different from former Dolphins’ offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, whose play-calling was stale and predictable last season.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins held their second practice during organized team activities that were open to the media Monday. ESPN.com's Dolphins page was there to take in all of the action.

Here are some additional observations from Monday's practice:
  • Keep in mind that it's very early, but I've been pleasantly surprised so far with the development of second-year guard Dallas Thomas. The Dolphins are playing Thomas with the first team at left guard, and he's holding his own next to Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert. Thomas suffered through injuries and looked mostly confused last year as a rookie playing guard and offensive tackle. But he's healthy and more experienced this year. Thomas has to hold off rookie third-round pick Billy Turner in training camp.
  • Speaking of Turner, he looks a little raw in the two practices I've seen him. Turner still plays a bit high, which is understandable because he was a left tackle at North Dakota State. The stance at guard is much different. Turner also needs to work on some of his footwork and fundamentals, such as his punch, at the NFL level.
  • New Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is trying many new things, which is refreshing to see. Miami's offense was stale and predictable last year under former offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. But Lazor is doing several creative things, such as moving No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace around and using a lot of motion and tempo to dictate to the defense.
  • Miami head coach Joe Philbin said the team should have about 85 percent of the new offense installed by the end of this week. One of the biggest storylines to watch this offseason is how quickly third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the group can pick up the offense. This week's practice was more crisp that last week's session.
  • One interesting wrinkle I saw in practice Monday was Miami using Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller in the same backfield. There are plenty of possibilities with that pairing.
  • Dolphins' second-year defensive end Dion Jordan continues to impress with his athleticism. This week he ran Miami tailback Mike Gillislee down from behind. Keep in mind Jordan is 265 pounds. Miami must find a way to get Jordan on the field. He looks ready for increased responsibility.
Jamar Taylor, Dion Jordan and Will Davis AP Photo, Getty ImagesJamar Taylor, Dion Jordan and Will Davis made a minimal impact as rookies.
Most of the attention over the next three weeks will be focused on the 2014 NFL draft, as each team tries to shape its present and future by identifying the right college players to fill needs.

But for the Miami Dolphins, success or failure this season will depend more on the development of the 2013 draft class. Few teams got less production from their rookies last year than Miami. Only the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks had fewer snaps from first-year players -- and those teams, which competed in Super Bowl XLVIII, were stacked with established veterans.

The Dolphins, who faltered down the stretch and finished 8-8, did not have that luxury.

It's time for Miami's second-year players to come of age during an important time for many within the organization. Head coach Joe Philbin is entering an important third year after going 15-17 his first two seasons, and there could be a lot of change next year if the Dolphins aren't successful.

Most of Miami's top picks -- including defensive end Dion Jordan, offensive lineman Dallas Thomas and cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis -- basically had red-shirt seasons in 2013, thanks to injuries, inconsistency and lack of confidence from the coaching staff. That lack of production was one reason why the Dolphins failed to get to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.

"They got less than anybody in the league out of their draft class, and they had high picks. That's a huge issue," ESPN.com NFL scout Matt Williamson said. "But if that group, the corners and especially Jordan, can play up to what Miami thought they were and what most people thought they were, the Dolphins could rebound."

"We have a lot of hope for the draft class from last year," Philbin said at the NFL owners meetings in late March. "A lot of them have been back early, working. You want to see development throughout the course of an individual player's career, but I think all of you guys would agree you usually see a significant jump between Year 1 and Year 2. These are guys we thought highly of a year ago when we drafted them.

"They had some injury issues that kind of curtailed their development in Year 1. So I'm excited about working with them, developing them and seeing them progress here this season."

The 2013 draft class was one point of contention last year between Miami's coaching staff and the front office. Philbin didn't feel his rookies were ready to take on larger roles. Jeff Ireland, then the Dolphins' general manager, believed in the talent of his draft picks and felt they were not being used properly. Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, was perhaps the biggest example.

Due to offseason shoulder surgery, Jordan missed time in training camp and the preseason. He never found his footing in the regular season and he fell behind veteran defensive ends Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby.

Williamson described Jordan as "a ridiculous athlete." He has immense potential but spent most of the season as the third or fourth defensive end and on special teams. He was involved in 321 snaps and had a disappointing 26 tackles and two sacks.

There have also been offseason trade rumors involving Jordan, which Philbin has denied. Miami's head coach expects Jordan to have a larger role in 2014.

"We feel like with a full offseason, with more time devoted to his fundamentals, he will have a better grasp of the position he's playing," Philbin said. "We do want to do a better job with the numbers, rotating him in. ... We want to get him more snaps on first and second down. "

The Dolphins also are counting on young corners Taylor and Davis, who were drafted in the second and third round, respectively. Both had injury setbacks last season and played a combined 104 snaps.

Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes will occupy one starting job, and Taylor and Davis will compete with veteran free-agent acquisition Cortland Finnegan for the other spot. Finnegan, a former Pro Bowl corner, is the favorite to start due to experience. But Philbin is not going in with any preconceived notions.

"I want to see the best player, whoever can help us win football games," Philbin explained. "Whoever performs the best should be the starting corner."

Miami got most of its rookie production last year from unlikely sources. Fifth-round kicker Caleb Sturgis proved to be the Dolphins' best rookie acquisition last season. He beat out longtime Miami kicker Dan Carpenter in training camp and led the Dolphins with 111 points.

The Dolphins also had decent production from undrafted rookie guard Sam Brenner, who made four starts and played 274 snaps. Brenner stepped up following the suspension of guard Richie Incognito in Miami's high-profile bullying scandal.

Brenner's production highlighted the fact that Thomas, a 2013 third-round pick, was too green to step in and be productive. Thomas was rotated between guard and tackle in training camp and never got comfortable in either position. Thomas must find a home at this season in order to provide quality depth.

In fact, it will be vital for Miami's entire 2013 draft class to find roles and contribute next season. The Dolphins used nine draft picks last year, and most have yet to make an impact.

"The Dolphins have a young quarterback [Ryan Tannehill], so they need to build a real core for the long term," Williamson said. "They need last year's draft and this upcoming come to build around Tannehill. They don't need to live for today. A strong core is more important than winning it all this year, although that philosophy can get you fired in Miami if you're 6-10."
The Miami Dolphins continue their busy offseason.

Let’s open the mailbag and see what’s on the mind of Dolphins fans.
Knowshon Moreno is in at running back for the Miami Dolphins. Moreno signed a one-year, $3 million contract with Miami and projects to be the immediate starter coming off a career season with the Denver Broncos.

But who is out at tailback for the Dolphins? That is the next question to consider as Miami and first-year general manager Dennis Hickey moves forward with his roster.

The Dolphins now have a full group of tailbacks that includes Moreno, Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee and Marcus Thigpen. Not all five tailbacks are going to make the 53-man roster.

The most the Dolphins would keep is four running backs. Moreno and Miller, last year's starter, are locks. Thigpen has versatility as Miami's primary kick returner and also experimented a little at wide receiver. Position flexibility is important to Miami third-year head coach Joe Philbin, and that could help Thigpen stick.

Most likely, Miami would have to choose between Thomas and Gillislee. Thomas is a former draft bust who never lived up to his potential. He was a second-round pick by former Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland in 2011. But Thomas' career high is 581 rushing yards during his rookie year. Gillislee didn't get to show much his rookie year in 2013.

It will be a healthy competition at running back, both for starting roles and to make the roster. Moreno, who rushed for 1,038 yards last season, is clearly an upgrade in the starting lineup. But adding Moreno pushes someone out on the back end.
The Miami Dolphins hired former Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor last week. While the initial hype included Lazor’s experience working with quarterbacks and the passing game, a big question is whether he can improve Miami’s 26th-ranked rushing attack.
Thomas
Lazor helped previously unknown Nick Foles go from a backup quarterback to a Pro Bowler this season. But a little-known stat is Philadelphia’s offense actually led the NFL in rushing last year under Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. Lazor certainly picked up some pointers from Kelly’s offense and the successful running game that he hopes to bring to Miami.

“When you come off of a season like we did where we were the leading rushing team in the NFL. We had the leading rusher. We had the highest-rated passer. We were able to be an explosive offense,” Lazor said last week. “Certainly a lot of things that led to that are going to have a great impact on what I believe works going forward.”

Miller
The Dolphins can do a better job in personnel this year to help Lazor. Miami relied on inexperienced former draft picks Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas to carry the load. In fact, the Dolphins only spent $2.412 million of their cap last year on running backs with Miller, Thomas and 2013 fifth-round pick Mike Gillislee. Miami ranked 30th in the NFL last season in money spent on running backs, according to the Roster Management System.

Miami has resources in both the draft and free agency to upgrade the running-back position. Big names in free agency include Ben Tate of the Houston Texans and Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Potential draft targets include Carlos Hyde of Ohio State and James White of Wisconsin. White will play in the Senior Bowl this weekend.

Miller and Thomas were not the answer in 2013. It will be interesting to see if the Dolphins upgrade at running with a new offense and offensive coordinator in 2014.

Dolphins position breakdown: RBs

January, 13, 2014
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The Miami Dolphins missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record in 2013. That means there will be plenty of questions of how to improve this offseason.

ESPN.com’s Dolphins page continues its roster evaluation by taking a look at Miami’s running backs.

Under contract in 2014: Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee, Marcus Thigpen

Free agents: None

Analysis: The Dolphins have a lot of running backs, but not a lot of answers. Lamar Miller didn’t make the most of his first year as the full-time starter. He rushed for just 709 yards and averaged 44.3 yards per game. I wouldn’t be surprised if Miami’s new general manager looks for an upgrade via the draft or free agency. Former second-round pick Daniel Thomas (406 yards) also is looking like a bust. Mike Gillislee, a 2013 fifth-round pick, was mostly inactive last year and still has a lot to prove. Marcus Thigpen is the team’s primary kick returner and could keep a similar role in 2014.

Walker’s stability meter (1 to 10, 10 being most stable): 3
One of the biggest criticisms on the 2013 Miami Dolphins is the lack of production from their rookie draft class. The Dolphins drafted nine players – and each made the team out of training camp.

Here is a look at how each Miami rookie fared last season:

Joseph
Jordan
DE Dion Jordan, first round, No. 3 overall

Stats: 26 tackles, two sacks

Analysis: The bar was high for Jordan entering the year. Miami traded up to the No. 3 pick to get Jordan, which shows how much its front office thought of him as a player. Jordan never got his footing following offseason shoulder surgery. He wasn’t 100 percent in training camp or the preseason and fell behind more productive players like Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby. Jordan must put on more weight and get stronger against the run in 2014. He will start next year as a backup.

CB Jamar Taylor, second round, No. 54 overall

Stats: 3 tackles

Analysis: Similar to Jordan, offseason ailments stunted Taylor’s growth. He had multiple health issues before and during training camp, which put Taylor behind. The Dolphins could certainly use their second-round pick at corner in 2014. The secondary is not deep and has some pending free agents. Taylor should get multiple opportunities to find a role next season.

OL Dallas Thomas, third round, No. 77 overall

Stats: No stats

Analysis: Thomas was a major disappointment as a rookie. Miami’s offensive line had a plethora of issues on and off the field, and Thomas still was unable to see the field. Even undrafted rookie Sam Brenner took playing time from Thomas. Thomas appears to be a better guard than tackle, and the Dolphins will have a void with starters John Jerry and Richie Incognito as pending free agents.

Davis
CB Will Davis, third round, 93 overall

Stats: 8 tackles

Analysis: Davis was an interesting case his rookie year. He was the talk of training camp after constantly picking off Miami quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore in practice. Davis unofficially led the Dolphins in training camp interceptions and got one pick in a preseason game. Davis appeared on his way to finding a role on the team. However, a toe injury kept Davis out several weeks and he never got back into the rotation. Davis received spotty playing, but certainly not enough to find a groove. Davis should get another chance to get into the rotation in next year’s camp.

LB Jelani Jenkins, fourth round, 104 overall

Stats: 17 tackles

Analysis: Jenkins came to Miami as a raw product from the University of Florida. The Dolphins felt his athletic ability would translate well, and that got Jenkins on the field some in sub packages and special teams. Jenkins’ biggest play was a crushing blow on Buffalo Bills quarterback Thad Lewis in October that resulted in an NFL fine. The Dolphins need to see more big hits – albeit legal ones – for Jenkins to get more playing time in 2014. But there were some flashes.

TE Dion Sims, fourth round, 106 overall

Stats: Six receptions, 32 yards, one touchdown

Analysis: Sims had a decent training camp and translated that into playing time this year. A season-ending knee injury to Dustin Keller moved Sims up the depth chart to the second tight end behind starter Charles Clay. However, Miami used a ton of three-receiver sets. Sims didn’t get many reps, outside of being an extra blocker. Sims’ biggest play was a game-winning touchdown catch against the Atlanta Falcons.

Gillislee
RB Mike Gillislee, fifth round, 164 overall

Stats: Six carries, 21 yards

Analysis: Despite Miami’s inability to run the football consistently, Gillislee spent most of the year on the inactive list. He dressed on Dec. 1 against the New York Jets and rushed for 21 yards. The Dolphins could be looking for upgrades at running back this offseason via the draft or free agency. Next season could be make or break for Gillislee to prove himself.

K Caleb Sturgis, fifth round, 166 overall

Stats: 26-of-34 on field goals, 33-of-33 on extra points

Analysis: Minus some rookie hiccups, Sturgis had a strong rookie season as Miami’s new kicker. He replaced longtime Dolphins veteran Dan Carpenter and led the team in scoring with 111 points. Sturgis displayed a strong leg with field goals and kickoffs. The Dolphins appear set at the kicker position for years to come.

DB Don Jones, seventh round, 250 overall

Stats: 10 tackles, one tackle for loss

Analysis: Jones came to Miami as a long shot to make the team. But his ability to play special teams earned him a roster spot and he stayed there all year. Jones was one of the Dolphins’ best players in the third phase of the game. He made some big hits in kick coverage and that should help him find a roster spot again next season.

Miami Dolphins' inactives at Buffalo

December, 22, 2013
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Here are the Miami Dolphins (8-6) players you won't see in Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills (5-9):
Miami tailback Daniel Thomas (ankle) is active and will provide relief for starter Lamar Miller. Thomas was questionable this week and only practiced on Friday.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins have been reluctant to provide a heavy workload to starting running back Lamar Miller. There have been reasons (excuses?) such as durability concerns and sharing with Daniel Thomas that severely limited Miller's carries. But Thomas' significant ankle injury forced a shift last week in Miami's thinking.

[+] EnlargeLamar Miller
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsRunning back Lamar Miller reaches for the pylon in mid-air during the first quarter of the Dolphins-New York Jets game at MetLife Stadium.
The Dolphins' coaching staff gave Miller a career-high 22 carries in Sunday's 23-3 victory over the New York Jets. Miller held his own against the NFL's No. 1 run defense with 72 yards, which included his longest run of 17 yards. He also helped grind out the clock in the fourth quarter to preserve the win for Miami (6-6), which remains in postseason contention.

Miller's yards per carry (3.3) were not impressive. But Miller showed he could be a workhorse against one of the most physical defenses in the league.

"I'm delighted," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said during his Monday news conference. "I thought [offensive coordinator] Mike [Sherman] did a great job sticking with the run. ...I thought [Miller] did a nice job. I thought his reads were good and he stayed on course pretty well. The thing we're looking for with all our backs is the ability to break more tackles and have more explosive runs."

The Dolphins were as close to a one-tailback system than they've been all year against New York. Miller received more carries Sunday against the Jets (22) than he received the previous three games combined (21). Miami rookie Mike Gillislee was second on the team with six carries.

Sunday's game was perhaps a peek into where Miami is heading offensively the rest of the year. Thomas is expected to miss a few more games and possibly the rest of the season. That leaves a bulk of the responsibility on Miller to carry the load during Miami's important playoff push. He leads the team with 547 rushing yards this season.

"With Daniel being out, he was told by me and his coach, Jeff Nixon, that he would carry the bulk of the load and, therefore, he was able to do that," Sherman said. "Most backs will tell you the more carries, the more effective, and I would tend to agree. They get a better feel for the game, a better feel for the cuts."

W2W4: Dolphins at Jets

November, 30, 2013
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The Miami Dolphins (5-6) will travel to New York to face the rival Jets (5-6) in what is a playoff eliminator for both teams.

Here are three things to watch from Miami's perspective:

Can the Dolphins run? On paper, Miami's running game is at a major disadvantage against New York's No. 1-rated run defense. The Dolphins are No. 26 running the football this year and they just lost their second-leading rusher -- Daniel Thomas -- to a significant ankle injury. Dolphins rookie tailback Mike Gillislee will combine with Marcus Thigpen to add depth behind starter Lamar Miller. Miami will need at least some success on the group to keep New York's aggressive defense honest.

Focus on Tannehill: Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill is nearly complete with his second season. But we haven't seen signs of Tannehill taking over games and putting the Dolphins on his shoulders. It's time for Tannehill to remove the kid's gloves and try to carry Miami's offense. The Dolphins haven't scored more than 27 points all season. It's important for Tannehill to get hot down the stretch for Miami to have a shot at the postseason.

Vulnerable Geno: After facing quality quarterbacks such as Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck this year, Miami's defense gets a relative reprieve this week with Jets quarterback Geno Smith. New York's quarterback is struggling and vulnerable. He has just one touchdown and 10 interceptions in the past six games. Miami would love to continue to pile on Smith and pick up a key win. Look for New York to protect Smith with a running game and solid defense. The Dolphins will try to make Smith beat Miami through the air.
DAVIE, Fla. – Miami Dolphins rookie tailback Mike Gillislee knows what it’s like to wait his turn.

Gillislee
Gillislee waited until his senior year to become the featured back at the University of Florida. His one productive college season was enough for the Dolphins to draft Gillislee in the fifth round.

This season Gillislee has been mostly inactive and hasn’t received a carry as Miami’s third-string tailback.

That's about to change.

With a significant ankle injury to Daniel Thomas, Gillislee is projected to be a key backup behind starting running back Lamar Miller.

The Dolphins (5-6) have used two tailbacks in their running game all year and would like to continue that in the final five games.

“It gave me an opportunity to grow and become a pro,” Gillislee said of watching from the sidelines this year. “Just by me watching, it made me hungrier and ready to take advantage of this opportunity that I’ve been given.”

Gillislee is expected to play Sunday in a huge game against the New York Jets (5-6). Both teams are among the half-dozen clubs fighting for the final wild-card spot in the AFC. The Dolphins-Jets game essentially will serve as a playoff eliminator. The winner will gain an inside track with four games remaining, while the loser will fall behind the pack.

The Dolphins are 26th in rushing this year and need a spark. Perhaps Gillislee can provide it off the bench. But it will not be easy going against New York’s No. 1-ranked run defense.

“I’ve been ready to go,” Gillislee said about Sunday’s game. “I’m ready to go now. But until I put those pads on, that’s when I’m really ready.”

Morning take: Dolphins vs. Geno Smith

November, 26, 2013
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Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Tuesday from around the web:
  • NFL.com takes a look at New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith against the Dolphins.
Morning take: Smith is in a big funk, which could be good news for the Dolphins. Miami will need turnovers on the road to win Sunday’s game.
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post writes about the Dolphins' mediocre offense.
Morning take: There is nothing Miami’s offense does well. They don’t run, pass, block or score touchdowns with any consistency. The Dolphins’ offense is all-around average.
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports rookie tailback Mike Gillislee needs to step up in Daniel Thomas’ absence.
Morning take: Thomas suffered a significant ankle injury that could sideline him for the rest of the season. Gillislee could get some opportunities behind starter Lamar Miller if Miami sticks with two tailbacks.
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel says the Dolphins (5-6) are still in the hunt for the playoffs.
Morning take: The Dolphins are in the hunt, but they will not get in. Miami must go 4-1 the rest of the way, and this team hasn’t shown any signs it can be locked in down the stretch.
Miami Dolphins backup tailback Daniel Thomas suffered a season-ending ankle injury, according to both ESPN and the Sun Sentinel. Thomas was a key contributor on offense who earned a lot of playing time this year. He also was a favorite of Miami’s coaching staff.

Thomas was Miami’s second-leading rusher with 279 yards on 77 carries. He also had three rushing touchdowns.

So what’s next for the Dolphins at tailback? Let’s examine.

Lamar Miller: 475 yards, 114 carries, two touchdowns

Analysis: Miller is Miami’s leading rusher, but he’s also the most inconsistent. He’s only produced one 100-yard game. On the flip side, Miller has four games of 17 rushing yards or fewer. With Thomas out, consistency will be the key for Miller in the final five games of the season. Expect Miller’s workload to increase along with his expectations.

Mike Gillislee: No stats

Analysis: Gillislee is a rookie who has waited his turn at every stop. He waited at the University of Florida for an opportunity to be a feature back. This year Gillislee was inactive all season behind Miller and Thomas. The Dolphins may have no choice but to provide Gillislee a chance off the bench. He had a decent preseason. But the regular season is a difference challenge.

Marcus Thigpen: 8 yards, two carries

Analysis: Thigpen is Miami’s return specialist but still an unknown as a running back. He hasn’t received many opportunities as the Dolphins’ third running back behind Miller and Thomas. Thigpen is a threat catching balls out of the backfield. He averages 19.7 yards per reception. But it remains to be seen if Miami’s coaching staff has confidence in Thigpen as a pure runner.

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