NFL Nation: Lamar Miller

DETROIT – The Miami Dolphins (5-3) received some good injury news Sunday when the team made starting running back Lamar Miller active for its game against the Detroit Lions (6-2). Miller is Miami’s leading rusher with 518 yards and averages 4.9 yards per carry.

Here are Miami’s inactives for Sunday:
The Dolphins are looking for their fourth straight victory. Be sure to check out ESPN.com’s Dolphins page and on Twitter @JamesWalkerNFL for the latest Miami coverage throughout the day.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 37-0 victory over the San Diego Chargers:
  • Miller
    Miami starting running back Lamar Miller injured his shoulder in the second half and didn’t return to the game. But Miller said in the locker room that he was fine and should be ready to go next Sunday against the Detroit Lions. "I'm doing good," Miller said. "It was just a little stinger for the most part, but I'm good. I will get treatment, and I will be all right."
  • Miami's defensive players were happy about maintaining the shutout against San Diego. "You don't see it that much in the NFL," said Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes, who had two interceptions. It was the Dolphins' first shutout victory since 2006.
  • Overall it was a festive mood in Miami's locker room. Players were excited about the blowout win and believe it made a statement. The Dolphins (5-3) certainly will command more respect on a national scale after this victory.

The San Diego Chargers (5-3) will travel to face the Miami Dolphins (4-3) in an important game with early playoff implications. Both teams could be fighting for a wild card in the AFC, which would make owning the head-to-head tiebreaker important.

Who will prevail in this matchup? ESPN Chargers reporter Eric D. Williams and ESPN Dolphins reporter James Walker discuss:

Walker: Miami has won two in a row and San Diego has lost two in a row, so momentum may be a factor in this matchup. Where are the Chargers in terms of confidence and ending their losing streak?

Williams: The Chargers are a veteran-led group that understands the ebb and flow of an NFL season, so confidence will not be an issue traveling on the road to face the Dolphins. Two of San Diego's three losses have come on the road, against teams that have one loss apiece (Denver and Arizona). San Diego's other loss was a three-point setback to AFC West rival Kansas City at home.

The Chargers don't make a lot of mistakes and generally force opponents to beat them. Coach Mike McCoy is meticulous in his game-day preparation and his staff is skilled in making in-game adjustments. I expect San Diego will be ready for whatever the Dolphins plan to do scheme-wise on both sides of the ball.

The Dolphins are doing a nice job of running, ranked No. 6 by averaging 138 rushing yards per game. How has new coordinator Bill Lazor turned things around on offense?

Walker: Most people expected Lazor to come in and quickly fix the passing game, but he has made his biggest contribution with the running game. Miami's ground game has been consistent, whether it was Knowshon Moreno early, Lamar Miller lately or even quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has three runs of 30 yards or more in the past three games. Lazor has done a good job of spreading out defenses and calling run plays at the right time. His read-option with Tannehill and Miller has been a huge success. Miami's passing game still needs work, but there is progress.

West Coast teams often don't look the same in Miami; San Diego hasn't won here since the 1981 season. How are the Chargers combating that and will the 10-day layoff help?

Williams: Although West Coast teams traditionally struggle in early games traveling east, the Chargers have been relatively successful of late, posting a 7-5 record in 10 a.m. PT games since 2012. The extra days off have given this banged-up team a chance to get some players healthy, and with Philip Rivers controlling the offense, the Chargers are competitive more times than not. One of the keys for San Diego will be the possible return of running back Ryan Mathews. Out for the past six games with an MCL sprain, the Fresno State product could help provide some much-needed balance to San Diego's offense if healthy and cleared to play on Sunday.

After starting 1-2, the Dolphins have won three of their past four games to get back into the AFC playoff race. What has been the difference?

Walker: Part of it is the schedule. The Dolphins cannot hide from that fact. All three of Miami's victories during this stretch have been against the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7), Oakland Raiders (0-7) and Chicago Bears (3-5). Those are bad teams the Dolphins must beat if they want to be considered playoff contenders, and to their credit they took care of business.

The Dolphins are 1-3 against teams with winning records. That is why this game against San Diego is such a good measuring stick of where the Dolphins stand. Miami's next four opponents have a combined record of 22-9 (.709 winning percentage), so we are going to find out quickly whether the Dolphins are contenders or pretenders.

San Diego was banged up before its previous game against the Broncos. Where are the Chargers injury-wise heading into Sunday's game?

Williams: The Chargers should be in a better place health-wise. Four weeks ago against Jacksonville, the Chargers barely had enough healthy bodies to fill 46 spots on the active roster. Along with Mathews, cornerback Brandon Flowers and running back Donald Brown are possibilities to return from concussions. Pass rushers Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring) and Cordarro Law (ankle) also should have a chance to make it back on the field on Sunday. Offensive linemen D.J. Fluker (ankle) and Rich Ohrnberger (back) have been playing with injuries, so the extra time should work in their favor as well.

The Dolphins are No. 3 in passing defense, holding teams to just 212 passing yards a game. How does the front seven set the tone?

Walker: Miami's front four are the strength of the entire team. The Dolphins have waves of good players, starting with defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon and defensive tackles Jared Odrick, Earl Mitchell and Randy Starks. Miami also is getting contributions off the bench from Derrick Shelby, Chris McCain and Dion Jordan, who recorded a couple of tackles in his first game off suspension. This group sets the tone for the defense. The Dolphins' linebackers have been inconsistent with the exception of Jelani Jenkins, who leads Miami in tackles (53) by a wide margin.

DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill isn't sure whether he believes in momentum for individual players. But if there is such a thing, Tannehill should feel good about his chances heading into Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers.

Tannehill is coming off his best game of the season with 278 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-14 win over the Oakland Raiders. Tannehill had a 109.3 passer rating. Before that, Tannehill had three mediocre games that led to questions about his status as Miami's starter.

The Dolphins (2-2) will need more stellar quarterback play from Tannehill against the Packers (3-2). Green Bay Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers is playing lights out with seven touchdowns the past two games and the team is averaging 40 points over that span.

A confident Tannehill believes he's turned the corner and is ready for a shootout, if necessary.

"When you play a good offense, in general, you understand you're probably going to have to put up a lot of points," Tannehill said. "We understand that. I think we have the playmakers across the board to do it. I think we started going the right way a couple weeks ago in London."

Miami finally appears headed in the right direction offensively. This group is well rested and coming off a bye in Week 5.

The Dolphins are expected to get Pro Bowl offensive lineman Mike Pouncey (hip) back in the lineup. Running back Knowshon Moreno, who is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, also is practicing this week and could return from an elbow injury.

Green Bay has the worst run defense in the NFL, allowing an average of 163 yards per game. That is a good matchup for Miami, which has the fifth-best rushing offense at 142.3 yards per game. Look for the Packers to stack to line to mask this weakness, which means Tannehill should get plenty of opportunities to produce through the air.

Week 4 against the Raiders was the first time this season the Dolphins' offense produced enough explosive plays. Tannehill had three passes of 20 yards or more and running back Lamar Miller added a rushing attempt for 21 yards.

"I think the last game gave everyone on the offense more confidence," Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said. "Let's face it, you can do your best, but it's hard to predict going into a game how it's going to go. If it takes the defense helping us, we'll take it. But we've got to do our job. Every time we go out there, we've got to try and score.

"We've got to build an attitude that, when we send the offense on the field, their job is to score until the end of the game when we tell them to run the clock out."

Miami's defense has allowed 30 points or more only once this season. But this could be one of those high-scoring games at Sun Life Stadium.

Either way, Tannehill says he's ready.

"I don't know what it's going to take," Tannehill said. "You never know until the game. But we have a lot of respect for their offense and playmaking ability. As an offense, it's our job to score."

Offensive malaise continues for Miami

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
9:21
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video

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- There was a lot of hype and hoopla surrounding the Miami Dolphins' new-look offense this offseason.

First-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who came from the Chip Kelly school of offense, was expected to bring an innovative style to Miami that was up-tempo and able to quickly put points on the board. Even Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said in training camp that he viewed 25 points per game -- or 400 points in a season -- as a successful bar for his team.

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeProtecting quarterback Ryan Tannehill was again an issue for Miami in Sunday's loss to the Chiefs.
But after three games, the Dolphins’ new offense is mostly firing blanks. As a result, Miami (1-2) suffered a 34-15 blowout loss at home to the previously winless Kansas City Chiefs (1-2).

The Dolphins have averaged just 12.5 points per game in the past two weeks. The "new look" is showing some of the same old mistakes that were made previously under former offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.

Many people in Miami have their jobs on the line this season, and the Dolphins can't win many games with the offense unable to consistently move the football.

Why is the offense struggling? There are myriad reasons. Here are a few worth noting:

  • Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is not making the proper strides in Year 3. Lazor is asking a lot of Tannehill, and so far he’s proving to be unable to carry the team. Tannehill currently has a career-low completion percentage of 56.5 percent in three games. His passer rating of 74.1 also is a career low. The Dolphins can only go as far as Tannehill can lead them, and so far it’s not looking promising. "It's still early in the season, so I have confidence that we can get this thing turned around," Tannehill said. "But it has to happen now. I said that last week and we didn't get it done."
  • There have been questionable play calling by Lazor and poor clock management by Philbin. On Sunday, the Dolphins called passes on second-and-1 and third-and-1 early in the fourth quarter, which resulted in an incomplete deep pass to Mike Wallace and a quarterback sack. Miami had the running game going -- Lamar Miller rushed for 108 yards -- and went away from it at a curious time. The game went downhill from there.
  • The offense has been unable to sustain scoring drives. The Dolphins' longest touchdown drive was for 19 yards, which followed a Chiefs turnover. In fact, 12 of Miami's 15 points were set up by the defense and special teams. Defensive tackle Jared Odrick forced a fumble on Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith to set up a short touchdown. Miami's defense also got a safety and rookie Jarvis Landry returned a kick 75 yards to set up a field goal.
  • The Dolphins had three drops in the first quarter, which killed any momentum in the first half.
  • Pass protection, which was the offense's biggest issue last season, remains a problem. The Dolphins allowed four quarterback sacks for the second week in a row. Tannehill has been sacked nine times in three games.

There are no easy fixes. Leaks are springing up in various areas and Philbin said "everything" is on the table in terms of making improvements.

The good news is Miami will play another winless team, the Oakland Raiders. The game will be played in London, where the Dolphins hope to find their identity.

"We have to determine what we're going to do," Philbin said. "We have to go back to work. We gotta go across the Atlantic Ocean and we have to play better."

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
7:26
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 34-15 loss at Sun Life Stadium:

What it means: The Dolphins (1-2) are in the middle of a two-game losing streak and lost to a previously winless Chiefs (1-2) team. Miami’s offense is struggling. The Dolphins are averaging just 12.5 points per game the past two weeks. There are major questions brewing on that side of the ball. Miami’s defense also didn’t play its best game and suffered from missed tackles and blown assignments.

Stock watch: Dolphins linebacker Jelani Jenkins' stock is on the rise. In his second career start, Jenkins recorded 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Jenkins also was credited for a safety in the third quarter. Jenkins led the Dolphins with 14 tackles in Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills. With the way Jenkins has played since replacing the injured Dannell Ellerbe (hip) in the starting lineup, the Dolphins might be on to something.

Slow starters: The Dolphins have an ugly, recurring trend of slow starts. Miami trailed the Chiefs 14-3 at intermission and gave a winless team confidence on the road early. The Dolphins have been badly outplayed in the first half this season and trailed at intermission in all three games. Miami has been outscored 43-13 in first and second quarters this season.

Game ball: Dolphins starting running back Lamar Miller took the reins for the injured Knowshon Moreno and ran well for Miami. Miller rushed for 108 yards on 14 carries. It was Miller’s first 100-yard game since Oct. 31, 2013.

What’s next: The Dolphins will have their longest road trip of the season in Week 4. Miami will travel to London to play the winless Oakland Raiders (0-3). Oakland lost to the New England Patriots 16-9 in Week 3.

The Film Don't Lie: Dolphins

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
4:00
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A weekly look at what the Miami Dolphins must fix:

A position of strength for the Dolphins has now become a position of weakness after two games. Miami’s running back corps suffered a major blow with leading rusher Knowshon Moreno sidelined with an elbow injury. Early reports indicate Moreno could be out approximately one month.

How do the Dolphins fix this issue? It will be up to Lamar Miller and backups Damian Williams and Orleans Darkwa to step up and carry the load. So far that hasn’t been the case when Moreno isn’t in the lineup. On Monday, Miami also signed Daniel Thomas, who was cut by the team before the regular season.

The Dolphins average 5.5 yards per carry with Moreno running the ball this season. The other three running backs are averaging 3.9 yards per carry. Moreno also has more rushing yards (138) this season than Miller, Williams and Darkwa combined (133).

Miami will need more production from this trio to keep the offense balanced.
MIAMI -- Can one strong preseason game supersede an entire offseason and training camp?

That is the dilemma currently facing the Miami Dolphins with running backs Knowshon Moreno and incumbent starter Lamar Miller.

Moreno
Moreno made an impressive Miami debut Saturday night during a 25-20 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. He led all rushers with 64 yards on 10 carries (6.4-yard average). Moreno also showed good vision, burst and the ability to finish runs in his first game of 2014. These are things Miller struggled with this during the previous two preseason games.

However, Miller has been the most consistent running back in practices, dating back to organized team activities in the spring. Miller also has been the healthier tailback -- and the most available. Moreno struggled this spring on a gimpy knee and wasn't in the best of shape. He’s only now rounding into form in late August following recent knee surgery.

But Moreno’s performance against Dallas certainly was enough to make Miami’s coaching staff rethink their depth chart at running back. Should Moreno be the starter in Week 1 of the regular season?

“We haven’t released anything,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said after the game of his tailback situation. “We’re still evaluating right up until we name our starter. I thought [Moreno] played well.”

This is certainly an interesting situation for the Dolphins. When they released their first official depth chart this summer, Moreno was listed as the fourth running back. Some of it was a farce because he hadn’t done much in training camp up until that point. But Moreno, at best, was the No. 2 running back heading into Miami’s third preseason game.

Now, expect a lot of chatter in South Florida about making Moreno the No. 1 running back. He’s coming off a career year in 2013 with the AFC champion Denver Broncos and showed some of that form against Dallas. Meanwhile, Miller didn’t flourish in his first season as a starter last year and remains a question mark.

“I can’t control where I am on the depth chart,” Moreno explained. “That’s all about the coaches, and they have to do those things. I just have to come out and prepare and get ready for each games. I think all us running backs are prepared to be No. 1.”

Starter or not, expect Moreno to be a key cog in Miami’s offense. He brings a physical element to the Dolphins they haven’t had since Ricky Williams.

The Dolphins will use the next 10 days of practices to make the call on their starting running back before they host the New England Patriots Sept. 7 in the regular-season opener.

Observation Deck: Miami Dolphins

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
10:20
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MIAMI -- Until Saturday night, the Miami Dolphins were left to wonder what their running game looks like at full strength under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Miami had gone without Knowshon Moreno, a key free-agent pickup, the entire preseason due to knee surgery.

But Moreno made an impressive 2014 debut in Saturday's 25-20 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Moreno rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries (good for a 6.4-yard average) in his Dolphins debut. Moreno ran strong between the tackles and added a new dimension to the Dolphins' offense. He showed good vision, burst through the hole, and wasn't afraid to punish defenders at the end of runs.

Moreno is competing with incumbent starter Lamar Miller (34 rushing yards) and perhaps closed the distance with this preseason performance. Miami hopes Moreno's output Saturday is a taste of things to come in the regular season.

Here are some other thoughts on the Dolphins' third preseason game:
  • It was a mixed bag from Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who completed 13-of-21 passes for 119 yards and one interception in the dress rehearsal game. The third-year quarterback did a decent job of moving the Dolphins' offense down the field, but sloppy play kept points off the board. Tannehill threw his interception into double coverage while Miami was driving down the field in the third quarter on his final throw of the night. Tannehill also completed a pass to tight end Dion Sims, who fumbled the ball in the first half to stall another drive.
  • The Dolphins’ starting defense held up well against a talented and dangerous Cowboys’ offense. Miami held Dallas’ offense to just six points in the first half when starters were on the field. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo looked befuddled at times by Miami’s defense. Romo was 10-of-18 passing for 87 yards in the game and was sacked three times. Dolphins starting defensive ends Cameron Wake (two sacks) and Olivier Vernon (one sack) got to Romo.
  • In addition to Moreno, Dolphins starting tight end Charles Clay also made his 2014 debut. Clay tweaked his knee during Miami's team scrimmage earlier this month and missed the first two preseason games. Clay played in the first quarter and recorded one reception for 18 yards.
  • The Dolphins still have a lot of work to do on special teams. Dallas reeled off big returns Saturday, including a 50-yard kickoff return from Cowboys receiver Dwayne Harris in the first quarter. Miami rookie receiver Jarvis Landry also fumbled a punt return that he later recovered. The Dolphins also had a punt blocked, but it was called back due to a Dallas penalty. On top of that, Miami kicker John Potter also injured his hip in the first half and didn't finish the game. Punter Brandon Fields performed kickoffs in the second half. It was a rough night for Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi, who certainly has a lot to talk about with his group next week.
  • Miami starting middle linebacker Koa Misi was a late scratch Saturday night with a shoulder injury. He practiced during the week but was held out against Dallas. The Dolphins started backup linebacker Jason Trusnik in place of Misi. Dolphins kick returner Marcus Thigpen, kicker Caleb Sturgis and running backs Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee were also among the key players who didn’t suit up for Miami Saturday night.

Observation Deck: Miami Dolphins

August, 16, 2014
Aug 16
10:38
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The Miami Dolphins knew they were in for a tough test offensively Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Miami's first-team offense was nearly perfect in one touchdown drive against the mediocre Atlanta Flacons’ defense last week. But Tampa Bay has defensive talent at a lot of positions, and the Dolphins’ offense would be on the field longer.

The result was a mixed bag for Miami's starting offense during a 20-14 win over Tampa Bay. The first-team offense produced three points in three drives. The other two resulted in a punt and a lost fumble by starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The good news is Tannehill threw the football well. He was 9-of-14 passing for 110 yards.

Tampa Bay’s defense was able to expose some things needed to improve in Miami's new offense under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Here are some other thoughts on the Dolphins' second preseason game:
  • Dolphins starting right guard Dallas Thomas struggled mightily. Thomas had the tough task of Tampa Bay Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Thomas gave up a sack and fumble to McCoy in the first half, another hit on Tannehill and a tackle for loss. Thomas also had a false start in the second quarter when McCoy was not in the game. Questions will certainly arise whether Thomas can handle the starting job for 16 games. Miami has other options to explore if Thomas continues to struggle. Rookie third-round pick Billy Turner and veteran free-agent signing Shelley Smith could get another look next week in practice.
  • Miami’s running game also remains a cause for concern. Starting running back Lamar Miller rushed for just 3 yards on three carries. He had just 11 yards on four carries last week against Atlanta. Miami is getting little push from its offensive line in the running game. In the first half when starters and key backups played, the Dolphins rushed for minus-5 yards on nine carries.
  • It is only the preseason, but Dolphins starting cornerback Brent Grimes produced one of the best plays of the exhibition season. Tampa Bay rookie receiver Mike Evans made a strong catch over the middle and broke through a tackle attempt by Miami safety Jimmy Wilson. Evans appeared on his way to a touchdown, but Grimes hustled from the opposite sideline to force a fumble before Evans reached the end zone. After review, the Dolphins were awarded the football via a touchback. For a Pro Bowl cornerback to hustle that much in a preseason game says a lot about Grimes.
  • The Dolphins showed off their depth at receiver. Backups Brandon Gibson, Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews and Damian Williams all made their presence felt against Tampa Bay. This foursome combined for nine receptions and one touchdown catch. Miami might want to consider trading one of its lower-level receivers in order to gain depth at another position.
  • Miami backup quarterback Matt Moore virtually locked up the No. 2 quarterback job Saturday night. Moore was 13-of-19 passing for 158 yards and a touchdown. He threw a nice touchdown pass to the corner of the end zone to Matthews before halftime. The Dolphins signed veteran quarterback Brady Quinn this week to push Moore. Quinn was the third quarterback Saturday and was 4-of-4 passing for 22 yards.

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 8

August, 2, 2014
Aug 2
3:20
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DAVIE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:
  • Saturday was highlighted by the Dolphins’ annual team scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium. It was a good day for Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who threw for two touchdowns. Tannehill played mostly against the second-team defense during the scrimmage but looked sharp. His two touchdown throws were for 9 yards to running back Lamar Miller and 7 yards to tight end Dion Sims. Tannehill saved his best throws for the red zone, which will be key this season. “It felt good today,” Tannehill said. “It’s good to be in our stadium. It’s good to be in front of some fans. Myself and the rest of the offense, we’re growing day by day, getting better day by day. I feel myself becoming more in tune with the plays coming in, just having an idea exactly of what to do with the ball every play and that’s exciting for me.”
  • There were several very good plays by the defense in this scrimmage. The two that stood out most were Cortland Finnegan’s deep-ball interception off Dolphins backup quarterback Pat Devlin and rookie linebacker Jordie Tripp’s 70-plus yard fumble return for a touchdown. Tripp stripped rookie running back Damian Williams and recovered the ball in stride for the defensive touchdown.
  • Miller, Miami's incumbent starting running back, had a good day running the ball. He reeled off a pair of runs for 14 yards and 10 yards, showing good shiftiness. Miller also broke through several tacklers, which is something he didn’t do enough of in his first year as a starter last season. “He’s a guy that’s got a lot of skill and talent, and good speed,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said Saturday. “He does have elusiveness. I think that showed up today.”
  • The first-team offensive line actually held up well. There were no sacks allowed from the starting five in the trenches that included left tackle Branden Albert, left guard Daryn Colledge, center Nate Garner, right guard Dallas Thomas and rookie right tackle Ja’Wuan James. Miami is still trying to find its right combination up front. But Saturday’s performance was promising. “I think we got better today,” Albert said. “We just did a good job, from the quarterbacks to the running backs.”
  • There was one injury of note: Dolphins starting tight end Charles Clay went down early with an apparent right leg injury. The ailment didn't look serious, but Clay didn't return to the scrimmage.
  • After the scrimmage, the Dolphins announced their 2014 “Walk of Fame” members. The group includes former Dolphins cornerback Sam Madison, running back Tony Nathan, guard Ed Newman and defensive end Jeff Cross. The group will be inducted Sept. 21 before Miami’s home game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • The Dolphins are off on Sunday. Miami will return to the practice field on Monday at 8 a.m. ET to continue training camp at the team’s headquarters in Davie.

Mike Pouncey, Moreno on PUP

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
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DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins opened training camp Friday by placing Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey and running back Knowshon Moreno on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

Pouncey had major hip surgery this summer and reportedly could miss as much as eight weeks of the regular season. Moreno had a cleanup procedure on his knee and should return before the end of the preseason.

Both players are expected to eventually be key members of Miami's offense. Pouncey is arguably the Dolphins’ best offensive player. Moreno, who started last year for the Denver Broncos, signed a one-year contract to compete with incumbent starting tailback Lamar Miller.

The Dolphins opened training camp on Friday. Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey also said everyone passed their conditioning tests.

Miami Dolphins' projected roster

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
11:00
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Examining the Miami Dolphins’ roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)


The only question here is whether Devlin can hold off undrafted rookie Brock Jensen for the No. 3 quarterback job. Neither quarterback stood out in the offseason, but Devlin has the slight edge because of experience.

RUNNING BACKS (3)

The Dolphins would like to have someone step up and challenge Thomas. Undrafted rookie Damien Williams from Oklahoma could be a sleeper to watch. But it's too premature to put Williams on the 53-man roster over the veteran Thomas before the pads come on.

RECEIVERS (6)

This is a deep group with a lot of competition. Williams will be pushed for the final spot by Armon Binns and rookie Matt Hazel, who is practice-squad-eligible.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

New Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor uses some two-tight-end sets. So there might be room for a fourth player such as Dion Sims. But we are sticking with three for now.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
Pouncey’s hip injury puts a major dent in this much-maligned group to start the season. Miami will have five new starters in Week 1.

DEFENSIVE LINE (8)

This is the strongest area of the team. The Dolphins can come at opponents in waves in the trenches.

LINEBACKERS (7)

This group must improve its play from 2013. The Misi experiment at middle linebacker is particularly important to watch.

CORNERBACKS (6)

This is a solid mix of youth and experience. As long as second-year players Taylor and Davis come of age and Finnegan stays healthy, the depth will be improved from a year ago.

SAFETIES (4)

This group is all about position flexibility. All four players must be able to play back in coverage and closer to the line of scrimmage in defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s scheme.

SPECIALISTS (3)

This trio will remain the same for the second straight year.
The Miami Dolphins invested $3 million this season in tailback Knowshon Moreno to boost their 26th-ranked running game. Due to his production last season and experience, Moreno is projected to be the Week 1 starter in Miami.

Moreno
But former longtime Indianapolis Colts general manager and ESPN analyst Bill Polian is not impressed with the signing. Polian graded Moreno as a “C” free agent.

Here were Polian’s comments on ESPN.com’s free-agent tracker:
“Solid contributor, but not a No. 1 back. I think most of his success from 2013 was a function of the system. His acceleration to the hole is the reason for the speed minus. The rest of his game is good, he just doesn't hit the big plays you need from a No. 1 RB.”

As Polian mentioned, many believe Moreno was a product of Denver Broncos’ system. He was a former first-round bust until future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning arrived in Denver. Those same large running lanes will not be there in Miami.

The Dolphins are expecting Moreno to be their No. 1 option to help third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas could not get the job done last season. Miami is hoping at least one of those two players will improve their game in a complimentary role.

It was a tough free-agent market for running backs. Moreno is coming off a career year where he rushed for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns. But Moreno said he only talked to the Dolphins before signing a one-year contract last week.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins like their running backs. Or do they?

It's difficult to read between the lines when it comes to the Dolphins and their much-maligned rushing attack. Miami was 26th in rushing last season and clearly needs to improve in that area.

Miller
Thomas
Tailbacks Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas were not productive enough. But Miami’s decision-makers have been strategically talking up both players.

“We like our guys,” Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said. “I think Lamar Miller has a lot of talent and has a lot of ability. I think the same with Mike Gillislee and Daniel Thomas.”

Hickey then finished by saying he’s always looking to upgrade talent on the roster. Do the Dolphins like their current running backs or not? It’s hard to tell.

What we do know is Miami played host to veteran free-agent and former first-round pick Knowshon Moreno for a visit last week. Moreno is coming off a career year with the Denver Broncos. There are also reports indicating Miami has preliminary interest in free-agent tailback Maurice Jones-Drew.

If Hickey and the Dolphins were confident in their running backs, why kick the tires of two of the top running backs on the market?

Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin explained that he wanted to see more explosive plays from Miller. But he wouldn’t say whether Miami’s starting running back is currently on the roster.

Hickey provided his blueprint of what he likes in a running back on Tuesday.

“You want toughness,” Hickey explained. “You want guys with vision who break tackles, but also can make things happen in the open space and play on third down and pass protect.”

The Dolphins must decide if Miller or Thomas fits most or all of those qualities. If not, it's time for the Dolphins to find an upgrade.

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Saturday, 12/20
Sunday, 12/21
Monday, 12/22
WEEKLY LEADERS