Houston Texans: Lamar Miller’s latest project will yield positive results

Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller is always looking to evolve and his latest initiative could be the best yet. What’s going on? Let’s look.

As we wait for some action from the Houston Texans, there’s always time for some speculation as well as examine what things in training camp could like up ahead.

Luckily, the Houston Texans will not be traveling up to West Virginia for training camp — and likely for the foreseeable future — as the event of the year that fans hold near-and-dear will back within the boundaries of the Bayou City.

This honestly is the way it should be as the team should be looking for ways to give every opportunity to connect with fans, the lifeblood of the team’s revenue coffers.  Sponsors contribute a lot but it’s the fans who buy the tickets, the apparel as well as the concessions inside NRG Stadium during any given game during the season.

Although the Houston Texans would be back in town for the last week or so of camp before the start of the season, it was such a tight window for fans to see their favorite players to which for some, it may their only opportunity for them to see them in action in-person for the whole season.

But as we go into the nuances of training camp in a few weeks, the one position that seems a lock for 2019 is at running back.

Lamar Miller will be the starter with D’Onta Foreman and likely rising star Josh Ferguson as the third back.  If things get dire, they could even stick in 7th-round pick Cullen Gillaspia for some carries as well so I do think the team is stacked enough at the position to get the job done.

But hold that thought.  Miller is in for another transformation and this one could be a doozy.  You already saw him shed weight in order to get faster and we saw evidence of that with an uptick in his numbers season-over-season.  We all witnessed him score the longest touchdown run in NFL history with an amazing, 97-yard sprint-out toward the end zone back Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans Nov. 26 on Monday Night Football.

But Miller isn’t done. 

He told the Chron’s Aaron Wilson that he wants to improve his abilities as a pass catcher so he will have every opportunity to help this offense move the chains.  With incoming offensive coordinator Tim Kelly calling plays, hopefully, this will prove to be fruitful to ensure their attack is elongated throughout the season.

So let’s take a look under the hood, shall we?

Last season, Miller caught 25 balls for 163 yards — 6.5 yards per catch — with one touchdown last season.  This is down from 36 catches for 327 yards in 2017 (9.1 yards per catch) with three touchdowns.

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Miller had a below-satisfactory 53.7 pass catching grade last season, which is down from a respectable 75.1 in 2017.

Miller realizes that improving on this stat will make him even more valuable to this team but I’m concerned about his ability to stay healthy with him having a thinner frame to boot.  He will be targeted more by defenders and one has to wonder if he can handle the extra hits.

But the hope is that he’s going to still be faster, creating some opportunities for some missed

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tackles.  However, he can’t avoid them all and those hits can add up over the course of a 16-game season.

Nonetheless, I think it’s a great move by the Houston Texans to allow him to have even more participation in the team’s offense because Deshaun Watson is going to need all of the weapons he can to ensure this team wins a ton of games.

Miller will make $5.5 million in base salary this season, his last of a four-year, $26 million deal he signed back in 2016.  With the amount of production he has emanated, he remains a tremendous bargain.  Let’s hope that’s the case as we go through the nuances of the 2019 season.

The upcoming schedule is a lot more difficult so I can’t say they will have the margin of error like last season.

I’m anxious to see how this goes!  Can’t wait!

Next. Texans: A four-part prediction of the 2019 season. dark

Miller, 28, had 210 carries for 973 yards — 4.6 yards per attempt — along with five touchdowns through 14 games in 2018.

For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe to PFF’s EDGE and ELITE subscriptions at ProFootballFocus.com.