So this is what your new Dolphins starting running back is doing while much of the NFL vacations:
Running. Lifting. Squatting. Sled-pulling. Pushing to validate every ounce of faith the Dolphins have placed in their gifted young back.
What makes the monotonous grind more pleasurable for Lamar Miller
is that he is doing it alongside his friend and fellow Hurricane, Frank Gore
“The way Lamar is learning from Frank, it’s a beautiful thing,” Steelers linebacker Sean Spence
, another former Cane, said this week.
Gore’s mentoring of Miller has been one of the neater Dolphins-flavored stories of the summer, the four-time Pro Bowler and 49ers star taking the second-year protege under his wing. They work out together twice a day – with a group of other NFL players in the morning in North Miami Beach, and just the two of them, with a trainer, on a Davie field at night.
“Since Lamar started gravitating toward Frank, his work ethic and mentality are unparalleled,” said Pete Bommarito
, who runs the highly-regarded Bommarito Performance Systems, where Gore, Miller and many other NFL players train during offseason mornings.
Miller, who almost assuredly will replace Detroit-bound Reggie Bush
as Miami’s starter, began spending a lot of time around Gore a couple of months ago, at the suggestion of their agent, Drew Rosenhaus
. Bommarito said Gore helped show Miller “how to take care of his body, what to do beyond what is required.”
Gore has noticed another change since they became workout buddies: “His footwork got a lot
Privately, the Dolphins believe Miller can be not merely a good starting back, but a great one.
“He’s the fastest running back I’ve ever seen,” said Bommarito, who has trained dozens of them, including Maurice Jones-Drew
What’s more, Miller said he’s even faster than the player who averaged 4.9 yards on 51 carries as a rookie.
“I’ve gotten quicker doing lateral work, and I’ve become more explosive by training every day doing squats on my legs,” he said.
“[And] I’m stronger. Last year, I was kind of lost getting adjusted to the speed of the game and knowing where I’m supposed to be at all times. Now I’m very comfortable with the system.”
Gore said of the elite UM backs of the past 20 years – Edgerrin James
, himself, Clinton Portis
, Willis McGahee
, Miller – “Lamar is probably the fastest. He reminds me of Portis.”
Teammates, impressed with Miller’s improvement in his pass protection, believe he’s ready for the more prominent role that awaits.
, Miller’s Dolphins and former UM teammate, compares him to Tennessee’s Chris Johnson
, who ran for 2006 yards in 2009. Philip Wheeler
said “he’s really good. Speedy, and that’s what we need.”
“He’s just so smooth,” Matt Moore
said. "As shifty as Lamar is, he's more of a downhill guy than Reggie. His nature is to go north and south.... You can see during walkthroughs that his leadership has stepped up. He has grabbed it."
jokes he has a “man crush” on Miller, while also expressing affection for backup Daniel Thomas
“And he’s a good kid,” Gore said. “We motivate each other.”
The relationship is especially meaningful for Miller because of their common roots. Both starred in high school locally: Gore at Coral Gables, Miller at Killian.
“We grew up in the same neighborhood – he’s just 10, 15 minutes away from me,” Miller said. “I used to look up to all the UM running backs growing up because that’s where I wanted to go. I want to keep the legacy of the University of Miami going.
“It has been great working with Frank, and it is going to help me in my game. He has given me a lot of tips.”
As they work side by side in the evening, Gore reminds Miller that most players around the league aren't doing anything like this on a July night --- traditionally a vacation period for many players -- and how that will give him a leg up on the competition, some way, some how, once the games begin.