On Saturday, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians kept things honest within his player evaluations, sharing that he expects more from some players in their development as well as their conditioning.
Wide receiver Scotty Miller was included in that conversation.
The third-year pass-catcher out of Bowling Green has enjoyed a productive two seasons within a deep-threat role in Tampa Bay’s receiver rotation, compiling 46 receptions for 701 yards, averaging 15.2 yards per grab, and four touchdowns. That much could be seen by his clutch, deep touchdown catch against the Green Bay Packers in the 2021 NFC Championship as halftime was approaching.
As a former sixth-round pick, specifically one that is undersized compared to the average NFL receiver, most would be happy with what Miller has offered the Bucs’ offense.
However, Arians wants to see more. Miller has made a name for himself with the speed to separate down the field, but has yet to develop into a more well-rounded receiver, specifically in traffic.
“He’s got to get better with bodies on him. That last play, he’s got to make that catch. It’s going to be grimy. He’s got to make more grimy catches,” Arians said on Saturday. “We know he can run by people, but you can’t be a one-trick pony in this league. You’ve got to be able to play with big bodies on you. He’s getting better.”
Miller must have heard what Arians had to say, because he responded with a strong showing during Sunday’s practice.
According to Greg Auman of The Athletic, Miller made several of those “grimy” catches that Arians wanted to see throughout training camp practice No. 7, showcasing a newfound ability in one-on-one drills to haul in contested balls. Specifically, per Bucs team reporter Scott Smith, Miller seized a ball out of the air with veteran cornerback Antonio Hamilton in tight coverage.
Of course, it’s worth keeping in mind that these are just practice situations and that he’ll have to show more throughout the preseason, but it is comforting to see Miller immediately step up in the way his head coach asked him to do so.
Although Miller has proven himself as a capable deep threat in the pros, the ability to offer more to the offense has never been more important to the Buccaneers than it is this offseason. The Bucs’ wide receiver room is arguably the deepest in the NFL, with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown headlining the unit.
That leaves Miller, Tyler Johnson, Jaydon Mickens, fourth-round rookie Jaelon Darden, Cyril Grayson, Travis Jonsen, Josh Pearson, and T.J. Simmons in a battle for what is expected to be three depth spots on the roster. Special teams prowess is also of importance in this competition, which Miller offers as a potential punt returner, a spot he took reps at alongside Mickens and Darden on Sunday.
Stay tuned to AllBucs for further coverage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offseason updates, and other news and analysis. Follow along on social media at @SIBuccaneers on Twitter and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sports Illustrated on Facebook.
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