Here’s the upgraded depth at running back the New Orleans Saints were looking for. Former TCU standout Kendre Miller powered the Horned Frogs to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game last season with an astounding 1,399 rushing yards and 17 touchdown runs — but he doesn’t have the wear and tear those numbers would suggest.
For one thing, Miller doesn’t even turn 21 years old until June. For another, he leaves TCU with just 390 career touches (361 carries and 29 receptions). He’s bringing very fresh legs to New Orleans, which is good news after Alvin Kamara was kind of run into the ground the last few years.
Yes, Miller is still recovering from an MCL injury that kept him out of the national title game. He says he’s expecting to be limited during organized team activities early this summer but should be fully cleared in time for training camp. That’s the first significant injury of his career and he otherwise has a clean bill of health, which is why the Saints were willing to pick him up so early.
Of course, Miller’s on-field performance played a big part in that decision, too. He has real home-run speed with 38 carries of 10 or more yards last season. For comparison, the Saints as a team managed 46 runs of 10-plus yards last year. only 26 of those plays came from their running backs. 17 of them were thanks to Taysom Hill. If you’re curious, Jamaal Williams had 22 such runs with the Detroit Lions.
Miller has speed in the open field that Alvin Kamara and his backups can’t match, even if he wasn’t able to show it in pre-draft athletic testing. He’s also a physical, hard-nosed runner in tight spaces. How often Miller will flash that big-playing ability remains to be seen. Much of his usage as a rookie depends on Kamara’s availability. But if he can just continue to make the most of his opportunities, he’ll be just fine.
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Story originally appeared on Saints Wire