The competition for a role in the defensive end rotation is heating up, and rookie Shareef Miller is right in the mix. Miller has posted a sack in each of the first two preseason games and has made seven tackles.
Trying to nail down an interview with Miller following Tuesday’s practice was like taking a number at the deli counter in your favorite supermarket. In other words, there was plenty of waiting and pacing.
In this case, it was while Miller visited with his high school coach at Philadelphia’s George Washington High, Ron Cohen, and Cohen’s grandson, and a slew of Ravens players and coaches.
Miller is still the hometown kid done well.
VIDEO: Shareef Miller talks about vying for the fourth DE role
“I’m living the dream,” he said. “I’m in my hometown, playing for the team I grew up watching. A dream come true. I’m just trying to maximize the opportunity.”
Miller has a handle on all the ticket requests coming his way, naming a family member to take care of the plethora of requests that figure to ramp up once the regular season begins. And he has moved into a place in New Jersey.
“We already had that plan once I got drafted to Philly,” said Miller, who selected in the fourth round out of Penn State. “I won’t have extra stuff on my plate that I don’t need; just worry about football.”
Miller is handling the football thing well, so far, but cracking the rotation won’t be easy, not with Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Vinny Curry lodged in front of him. Then there’s the otherworldly preseason Daeshon Hall is having.
“When my number’s called just try to make a play,” said Miller. “I know I’m capable of making plays. I believe the Eagles believe I can do that, too. So whatever it is, whether it’s on special teams or on defense, I just want to be on the field to make plays and help the team win.”
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz likes what he has seen so far from Miller. Schwartz said that Miller has gotten better with each training camp practice and, when the lights got even bigger in the two preseason games, Miller rose to the occasion.
“It's not always perfect right away, but you want guys that are showing steady improvement,” said Schwartz. “I think that’s him. And then one of the other things I like about Shareef is that he's shown the most when it's been sort of elevated.
“Like in the beginning he wasn't really standing out when he was practicing, then we had a light practice, and he stood out a little bit more, and then we had a preseason game, and he stood out a little bit more. So, I think those are all good signs for him, too. He still has a long way to go. Let's not put him in the Hall of Fame, yet.”
Miller said he has relied heavily on his speed so far, as he tries to get stronger each day in the weight room, but admits to rising to the occasion in-game, saying: “When the game is on the line you have to make the plays; that’s how you get paid. Big-time players making big time plays, so I try to be that type of guy. I still have a ways to go.”
Adjusting to playing against professional offensive tackles rather than those in college hasn’t been as big as Miller might of thought.
“Dudes in the Big 10 were pretty insane,” said Miller. “The tackles in the Big 10 and O-linemen in the Big 10 they are some big-ass dudes, too. But when you go against some vets that are smarter, like JP (Jason Peters), Lane (Johnson), they’re different type guys, you have to bring your A game.”
Miller is bringing it so far, but doesn’t appears as if he’s anywhere close to his ceiling.
Head coach Doug Pederson said right tackle Lane Johnson and tight end Dallas Goedert are on track to return for the season opener even though they have been shut down in the preseason with injury.
“They will both practice and be ready for Washington,” said Pederson.
As for tight end Richard Rodgers, who had to be carted off the practice field on Monday with an apparent foot injury, Pederson said an update would be forthcoming after Tuesday’s practice and when more tests are done. There was no update, however.
Quote of the day
“We’re going to be pretty good. We’re in good shape. (Monday) was a beast with the weather. We got through it. Today wasn’t any cooler. We’re in good shape and ready to roll.” – Left tackle Jason Peters asked what he learned about practicing with the Ravens.