Houston Texans: Will Lamar Miller be more versatile in 2019?

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 01: Lamar Miller #26 of the Houston Texans is tackled by Avery Williamson #54 of the Tennessee Titans in the first half at NRG Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 01: Lamar Miller #26 of the Houston Texans is tackled by Avery Williamson #54 of the Tennessee Titans in the first half at NRG Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

One aspect of Lamar Miller’s game that didn’t stand out in 2018 was his pass catching, but that could change this upcoming season.

Lamar Miller is a quality running back in the NFL who can be accounted for around 1,000 yards rushing each season, give-or-take a few yards. One part of his game that could really help the offense of the Houston Texans in 2019 is his ability to improve catching passes out of the backfield from quarterback Deshaun Watson.

In 2018, Miller had his second lowest receiving totals of his career — his worst since his rookie season in 2012 with the Miami Dolphins — by finishing with 25 receptions for 163 yards and one touchdown. Miller averaged 6.5 yards per reception with a best catch of 16 yards.

Eight of Miller’s receptions went for a first down, but he also had one fumble, and was targeted a total of 35 times, also tied for the second lowest total of his career.

For his career, Miller has caught 209 passes in105 games for 1,565 yards and eight touchdowns. The running back has been targeted 272 times in the passing game, with a career average of 7.5 yards per reception.

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Miller’s best season in catching passes was in 2015, his final year with in Miami, where he totaled 47 receptions for 397 yards and two touchdowns. Since joining the Texans in 2016, Miller’s top receiving season was 2017 where he caught 36 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns on 45 targets.

Earlier this month in a press conference, Miller spoke to the Houston media about his pass catching abilities, and if he could add more to the offense in that aspect of his game in 2019. Transcripts provided by HoustonTexans.com quoted Miller on that topic:

"“This offseason, that’s one of the things that I’ve been working on, just running routes on the outside of the backfield. I feel like that’s something that I can help this team do. So, heading to training camp, I’m just going to work on my route running and my speed, like always, to try to make big plays and just try to find a way to win.”"

Even with this being his eighth season in the NFL — fourth with the Texans — Miller is still working on his game and that is refreshing to see from a veteran. If Miller is able to contribute more to the passing game he can become a very dangerous player in the Texans’ offense.

Pro Football Focus had Miller graded as the 24th best running back in the league in 2018, having a 75.4 grade overall with a run grade of 80.3, and his receiving grade coming in at 53.7. His grade in that category was near or around players such as Alfred Blue and Wendell Smallwood, and just below Nick Chubb and Mark Ingram.

Having many talented players around him on the Texans offense can help Miller. He might not get as many carries or targets, but he’ll be able to do more on the opportunities when he has the football, because eventually he’ll get a favorable matchup his way in the passing game.

A lot of Miller’s possible success in ’19 will come from how much the Texans offensive line has improved. Miller has a great opportunity in front of him to become a better receiver out of the backfield for the Texans, but it will be up to him to make the improvements needed to stand out in that aspect of his game.

With Miller in the final year of his contract it will be exciting to see if he becomes a more versatile player for the Texans this season, and also to see if he is challenged by D’Onta Foreman for snaps.

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Miller needs to have his best season yet with the Texans, because if he can become a two-dimensional player in the offense, much success will follow for not only Miller, but the team as well.

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