It may seem crazy to think about, but if you can perhaps think back to the beginning of the previous season and try to remember who seemed to be a shoe-in to be the starting running back for the Miami Dolphins, you'll recall that RB's name wasn't Lamar Miller.
Veteran RB Knowshon Moreno had come into training camp out of shape and still rather banged up, and yet he had managed to take over Miller's job after very impressive performances in his limited preseason games and of course the first regular season game against the New England Patriots when he racked up 134 yards on 24 carries and helped lead the Dolphins to an opening day upset that put every member of the media on notice.
It seemed that Miller was once again doomed to be a backup after the entire fanbase had been excited about his potential when he was sitting behind Reggie Bush. But then Moreno went down in the next game against the Buffalo Bills, and Miller was thrust back into the starting position.
Miller struggled at first, but then something clicked in the young rusher's mind. The next game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Miller put up an extremely impressive performance where he ran for 108 yards on only 15 carries. The Dolphins lost, but Miller had proven that when his position was jeopardized, he would step up to the plate.
"We challenged Lamar last year to get better in some areas," offensive coordinator Bill Lazor told TheFinsiders' Greg Likens, "Certainly in pass protection, and we saw some improvement, I think we really challenged him to be decisive when he was running the football."
The gauntlet was thrown down in front of Miller, and he responded by picking it up and running for over 1,000 yards despite only averaging 13.5 carries a game and having a below-average offensive line to run behind a lot of the time. Now, Miller is being challenged once again.
"We'd like to see Lamar take it to another level." Lazor said. "We'd like him to become even more of an expert at reading the plays that we run, so not only can he be decisive but maybe make some of those extra yards here and there, not only by being physical like he improved on last year, but also by knowing the intricacies of these plays that we're running."
Miller is still trending upwards, and with a quarterback and an offensive unit as a whole that is slowly evolving around him even as he evolves, there's no telling what kind of an impact the four-year veteran will make in 2015, and it will be fun to see if Miller rises to the challenge once again and improves upon what he accomplished last season.
"I think Lamar's gonna do a good job with that." Lazor said, "I think he's up for the challenge. Every time we've challenged him, he's stepped forward."
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater