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2013 Training Camp Preview: Running Backs

Posted Jul 15, 2013

Youth is being served in Miami’s offensive backfield.



This will be the second time in the last three years that the Dolphins will showcase a new-look backfield on offense after bidding farewell to its leading rusher from the previous season – in this case Reggie Bush. It will be a very young backfield, with third-year running back Daniel Thomas the elder statesmen of the eight on the training camp roster.

Thomas and second-year running back Lamar Miller are the leading candidates to take over the starting role and bring that combination of speed and power that all NFL offenses crave. But rookie running back Mike Gillislee out of the University of Florida, a fifth-round pick, could push for serious playing time along with Jonas Gray, who was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame last year but basically was given a medical redshirt, and second-year back and kick returner Marcus Thigpen.

Jorvorskie Lane is the incumbent at fullback and had a solid rookie campaign for the Dolphins in 2012, but Miami brought in former Chicago Bears fullback/tight end Evan Rodriguez as training camp competition. Undrafted rookie free agent Cameron Marshall rounds out this group of running backs that will be counted on to take some pressure off of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the passing game for the Dolphins.

BREAKING DOWN DOLPHINS RUNNING BACKS

• Lamar Miller RB (5-10, 218; 250 YARDS; 1 TDS) — One of two draft picks out of the University of Miami last year, Miller actually led all Miami running backs in yards-per-carry average at 4.9 and the progress he made coupled with his potential made it easier for the team to part ways with Bush. Speed and quickness are two of Miller’s best assets and he has worked with former Hurricane and four-time Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore of the San Francisco 49ers this spring to take that next step and be a successful starter in the NFL.

• Jonas Gray RB (5-9, 225; N/A YARDS; N/A TDS) — Gray sat out all of last season after being placed on the PUP/NFI list near the end of training camp while he recovered from the knee injury that cut short his senior season at Notre Dame. He was more of a power runner in college and if he is 100 percent healthy could challenge Thomas in camp for that role of an interior compliment to Miller in the backfield.

• Daniel Thomas RB (6-1, 233; 325 YARDS; 4 TDS) — Injuries were a problem for Thomas in his first two seasons after the Dolphins spent a second-round draft pick on him in 2011 but he showed flashes of being a solid running back when he was healthy, especially as a rookie. He bulked up during the offseason and changed up his training regimen in order to help him become a more versatile player and the battle between him and Miller should prove to be one of the more intriguing ones in camp.

• Marcus Thigpen RB (5-11, 214; 8 YARDS; 0 TDS) — Yet another among the former CFL players to transition successfully to the NFL, Thigpen emerged as one of the league’s top kickoff and punt returners last season for Miami. The speedster out of Indiana announced his intentions to compete for the starting running back job during the offseason and offers a change of pace option for offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, so this training camp will be an important one for him.

• Mike Gillislee RB (5-11, 208; COLLEGE: 1,152 YARDS; 10 TDS) — After patiently waiting his turn in Gainesville for three years, Gillislee became the Gators’ featured back in 2012 and earned first-team All-SEC honors as a dual threat runner and receiver. He is one of three Florida players drafted by the Dolphins and had a strong showing in rookie minicamp, OTAs and minicamp, so he could be one of those surprise players coming out of training camp.

• Jorvorskie Lane RB (5-11, 258; 13 YARDS; 2 TDS) — Lane was one of the feel-good stories of 2012, earning the starting fullback job on the Dolphins after being out of football for the most part since finishing his college career at Texas A&M in 2008. He emerged as a reliable short-yardage back and receiver out of the backfield and hopes to hold off free agent Evan Rodriguez to reclaim his starting spot in training camp.

• Evan Rodriguez FB (6-2, 239; 0 YARDS; 0 TDS) — Back in April of 2012, Rodriguez was taken in the fourth round by the Chicago Bears out of Temple and started five games as a rookie (three at fullback and two at tight end) where he caught four passes for 21 yards. Chicago waived him on June 10th and Miami picked him up three days later to compete with Lane at fullback and add some depth in the backfield, which will intensify the competition in training camp.

• Cameron Marshall RB (5-9, 211; COLLEGE: 583 YARDS; 9 TDS) — Marshall had a stellar career at Arizona State with 2700 rushing yards and 38 rushing touchdowns, which ranks second in school history, but went undrafted in April. Miami signed him on May 3rd and he’ll try to push for a roster spot or at least a place on the practice squad.
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