Scotty Miller was a hot topic early in his rookie season as he entered 2019’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp as one of the players most fans and media really wanted to see perform.
Miller has speed and break-away ability for days, and people wanted to know if he would be able to click with quarterback Jameis Winston in ways DeSean Jackson never could. Unfortunately, injuries took away a large chunk of Miller’s 2019 training camp and preseason opportunities.
As a rookie, Miller only stepped on the field for ten of the possible sixteen games bringing in thirteen receptions for a total of 200-yards and one touchdown. Not impressive numbers.
However, when you consider the fact eight of those catches, 128 of those yards, and his touchdown catch all came in the span of three games, it’s easy to see why so many are excited about the potential Miller brings to the Bucs.
Couple it with the 90-yard catch and run he connected with Tom Brady on during day one of padded practices, and well, the excitement is real. Which means the spotlight is only going to get brighter.
Talking about Miller , Bucs wide receivers coach Kevin Garver said, “...the thing that’s really shown up for me with Scotty, number one, coming in as a rookie it’s always hard, it’s challenging. The one thing I noticed from him last year during the season that I liked is that he still tried to play fast through everything. Even though he wasn’t always right with technique, seeing coverages and all those things, he played fast. That’s usually one of the harder things to get rookies to do, but I think that helps him moving into his second season. But, the one thing that stood out to me was his releases at the line. He’s a lot more patient as a releaser at the line of scrimmage. It doesn’t mean you’re slow, it just means you take a little more time to set up the defender. Instead of always just taking this wide release and getting pushed out of bounds, I think those are the things he’s really starting to learn and it’s really helping him as it relates to press coverage.”
Miller’s ability to be coached is something I witnessed in training camp myself last year. Coming into it, I was excited to see this young speed receiver everyone was ranting and raving about. But then he got hurt, and he missed practices and the preseason game during the time I was on hand to cover training camp in person. It wasn’t until I made my way back to Tampa to cover the team’s contest against the Arizona Cardinals that I got to see Miller in-action, in person.
What I saw in camp from him did stand-out though. Constantly soaking in as much as he could from the sidelines and taking in sessions on the jugs machine after each one. If you listened in to post-practice press conferences you could hear the machine running in the background. That was Scotty.
His work ethic is what impressed me then, and it’s what’s helping him gain momentum in this year’s camp. It doesn’t hurt he’s being compared to New England Patriots great Julian Edelman as everyone scrambles to figure out who the next great receiver will be for Tom Brady.
But Miller isn’t Edelman. Could he work in an Edelman-like fashion? Sure. But he can do so much more than just be a short-area speed guy. Just ask head coach, Bruce Arians who had this to say when asked about whether or not Miller was similar to the former Brady teammate.
“Yes and no,” Arians said. “What has stood out about him is he’s put on some weight. He’s gotten stronger [and] his speed is showing up every single day. He’s not Edelman because he’s real fast. He plays in the slot some, he plays outside more. Julian’s pretty much a slot guy and we don’t put guys in just one position. Chris Godwin normally plays in there and we’re not taking those catches away from him.”
It’s not just his position coach and head coach Miller’s grabbed the attention of. His quarterback has noticed, and has gotten to know the young receiver relatively well despite the lack of organized activities up to now.
Of his early bond with Brady, and how the future Hall of Fame quarterback has been helping him and others, Miller had this to say,
“As you guys know, we were working out, trying to get on the same page because we didn’t have the chance to do OTAs and stuff like that. I think we meshed well together right away and I’m just trying to learn as much as I can from him. He’s trying to help us all because he has so much knowledge, so I’m just trying to catch on to everything he’s been telling me. He’s worked with so many receivers that are similar to me – so many great receivers in general – so I’m just trying to learn from him. I think if I’m on the same page as him, I’m going to be in a good spot.”
There are certainly a lot of people talking about, and wanting to talk to, Scotty Miller. For good reason too. Beyond the Edelman comparisons, Miller has earned every scrap of attention he’s gotten. Leveraged the influence of great players and strong coaches to turn his career on a seemingly straight-upwards trajectory.
In this pont of the NFL year, you love to see stories like this one. I for one thoroughly enjoy seeing the lesser nationally known players taking advantage of opportunities to show they belong in bigger conversations.
If Miller continues the path he’s on currently, he’s going to enter into many more Tampa Bay Buccaneers focused conversations, very soon. We here at Bucs Nation will certainly be watching.