Oakland Raiders running back Lonyae Miller at 2012 training camp (photo by Levi Damien)
Earlier this week the Raiders had a full stable of running back with which to work. Four back to be exact. But just like that, the number was cut in half. First Taiwan Jones went down with hamstring issues and then on Tuesday, Mike Goodson suffered a neck injury that will have him sidelined. That leaves the Raiders with just Darren McFadden and Lonyae Miller as the team's remaining healthy tailbacks.
In the first game of the preseason, the starters only see a couple series. This means McFadden will be relieved by Miller midway through the first quarter, leaving Miller to be the workhorse for the Raiders offense the remainder of the game.
The extended reps will give the team a lengthy look at this big back. It can be difficult to get an accurate judge of his skills in practice partly because of the lack of full contact drills and partly because he is running behind a line made up of mostly guys who won't even make the team.
On Monday he will get a chance to run behind the second team line for quite a while in a real game with real contact. The Raiders will get their best look at what kind of back they have in Miller.
At this point, Miller has been active for four career regular season games for these same Cowboys in 2010 but he did not record a single stat. After that, he was released by the Cowboys. Now, he will also get a shot at showing his former team they made a mistake in releasing him. Upon his released, the Raiders, among others, called him in for a workout. And being that he is from California and attended Fresno State, he chose the Raiders as his destination.
"After I was done with Dallas, I just so happened to get the phone call from Oakland and had workouts with several teams and I just ended up here." Said Miller. "I love it here, I'm back in my home [state] and it's awesome."
On Monday, his home state fans will get a long look at him and that could be cause for a bit of nervousness on the part of Miller. But he is trying to take it all day by day.
"I'm trying to take what [Dennis Allen] says in meetings as far as you know ‘there's no light at the end of the tunnel' and ‘just focus on the day' just ‘seize the day' and that's pretty much been my philosophy throughout training camp. Just take everything day by day and let the chips fall where they may."
He said he played a mix of zone and power scheme at Fresno State and has no preference as to which he runs in. Although he also said has always patterned his game after Terrell Davis. That is especially interesting because I was comparing him to another Broncos running back-- Mike Anderson.
"I liked Terrell Davis growing up watching him but I just kinda take a little bit from everybody." Said Miller. "Marshawn Lynch, [Adrian] Peterson, I watch film on all those guys, Arian Foster, just try and incorporate it into my game."
Watching him run, his aggressive style definitely seems to be patterned after guys like Terrell Davis, Marshawn Lynch, and Mike Anderson. And patterning his game after Arian Foster is a good idea too considering the success Foster has had in the Texans' zone blocking scheme.
If Miller can impress on Monday, it could go a long way toward his making this team. He is the biggest tail back this team has and his role would fill the change of pace back the Raiders lost when Michael Bush left as a free agent this offseason. And in the zone scheme, you never know where a gem may be found. Those players he emulates can attest to that. Miller was an undrafted free agent hoping to find his niche too.