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Thursday, August 25, 2011
Wait on Miller continues in Jacksonville

By Paul Kuharsky

During the lockout, Jaguars GM Gene Smith raved about Zach Miller. In another offense or situation, Miller could be like Dallas Clark, Smith said.

Change the offense to suit him and find a way to use that, I replied.

After two catches for 11 yards in the preseason opener, Miller missed last week’s preseason game against Atlanta with a knee injury, yet another health issue holding him back. He’s still rehabbing, so he won't make the trip to Buffalo for Saturday's preseason game.

Zach Miller
The Jaguars are excited about Zach Miller's potential once he gets more familiar with the tight end position.
During his rookie year he fractured his tibia in the first preseason game and going into his second year he had a Lisfranc foot sprain.

Miller is a very intriguing player. With the Jaguars lacking at wide receiver, I’d like to see him used more. But he can’t drop balls the way he was doing when I visited the Jaguars early in camp.

Understandably, a certain degree of patience is required when you draft a college quarterback from Nebraska-Omaha and convert him to tight end.

“I’m playing a completely different game than I’ve played my whole life,” he told me when I visited Jacksonville. “It’s a lot more physical, there are a lot more things that I need to do to take care of my body…

“The weight room is completely different. I was a decently physical quarterback, so that wasn’t the biggest thing. It’s just the game in there. And I am not in the trenches a lot, but when I am I had to adjust to it. I’ve started to block so much better than I have in the past. Being a QB helps me recognize coverages and things like that in the pass game, so that’s not really an issue.”

Smith talks of Marcedes Lewis and Miller as part of the “receiver group” rather than talking of just receivers. The two will have to find mismatches and make big contributions in the passing game for the Jaguars to do more on offense and find more big plays.

“This guy is what’s in this division on some of the other teams -- if you look at the Owen Danielses and the Dallas Clarks and even Bo Scaife for a number of years in Tennessee -- there are a lot of run-and-catch tight ends,” Smith said. “He’s improving as a blocker but his niche is really as a run-and-catch guy. He’s got to stay healthy and do it when he’s utilized in that role.”

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter likes Miller’s hands and field sense.

But he said Miller needs more time to complete the positional move.

“He’s not there,” Koetter said. “Take your favorite quarterback anywhere in the country and then stick him at tight end. I mean, come on. It’s a huge transition from a physical standpoint. Asking him to block, guys bumping you around route-running, holding you. Huge transition. But if Zach stays healthy, I think there is a lot of upside there.”