- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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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.
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."