Running back competition brewing in Miami

Running back competition brewing in Miami
June 10, 2014, 11:30 am
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It's a little early for this, no? 

The Dolphins signed Knowshon Moreno back in March, but reports out of Miami relay some surprise that he's not taking reps with the first team during OTAs.

Last year's starter, Lamar Miller, has been running with the offense's top units during the voluntary workouts, which has some scratching their heads.

From the Sun Sentinel:

Dolphins running back Lamar Miller was in a familiar position Monday — the starting lineup. And that's a bit surprising.

Miller, who rushed for 709 yards last year as the Dolphins' starter, was part of a running game that averaged 90 yards a game, which ranked 26th in the NFL.

So, the Dolphins, seeking an upgrade, signed veteran free agent Knowshon Moreno from Denver.

But Moreno, who had more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage last season, spent part of Monday's OTA (Organized Team Activities) on the field working with the third- and fourth-team players. Miller was working with the first and second teams. It's been that way throughout the offseason.

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin pointed out that the team doesn't have set starters right now since it's so early, and that sounds like a level-headed approach. Moreno is still very likely getting a feel for his new offense and how his teammates go about their business. 

Remember Moreno rushed for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns last season in Denver's record-breaking offense. Writing him off -- even if he appears a bit out of shape, as some have reported -- in early June as somehow not living up to his free-agent billing would seem to be premature. 

In all likelihood, whoever is the starter when the season begins in three months will be sharing a significant portion of the load. Miller and Moreno's skill sets are not identical so even if Miller starts and serves as the team's between-the-tackles back, Moreno will probably see plenty of work on third downs and as a receiver out of the backfield where he has excelled in his five-year career.

Both backs had their share of success against New England last season.

In Week 11, Moreno rushed 37 times for a whopping 224 yards and scored two touchdowns (one receiving) in his team's 34-31 loss. He also had 81 total yards against the Patriots in Denver's 26-16 win in the AFC title game.

Miller had 112 yards from scrimmage (89 rushing, 23 receiving) in a 27-17 loss to the Patriots in Week 7. In Miami's 24-20 win in Week 14, he had 61 yards on 15 carries.

The Dolphins added Tennessee tackle Ja'Wuan James in the first round of this year's draft and North Dakota State guard Billy Turner in the third, so their lackluster rushing attack from a season ago could see an uptick in production after they sought out upgrades in the trenches.