Braxton Miller spent the week playing Cam Newton on the Eagles’ scout team, giving the starting defense the best approximation possible of the dangerous Panthers quarterback.
Miller is the perfect guy for the job. A former top-five Heisman Trophy quarterback and explosive runner at Ohio State who’s now an Eagles practice squad wide receiver.
Miller was asked how much film he watched of Newton to prepare, and he just laughed.
“I didn’t watch film,” he said. “I just be myself.”
One thing Miller isn’t lacking in is confidence. He hasn’t been a quarterback since 2013, his junior year at Ohio State, but he had a lot of fun playing one at practice.
“Go out there and do the same thing I’ve been doing since I’ve been playing football,” he said. “Get the ball in my hands, make plays, give a good look to the defense and be explosive.
“Just going out there and have fun. Just like I’ve been doing it for so long.”
The immediate reaction is that all this must be humbling for Miller, a superstar at Ohio State before shoulder surgery in 2014 derailed his quarterbacking career and a third-round pick of the Texans in 2016 who’s now toiling in anonymity on the Eagles’ practice squad.
He doesn’t look at it that way.
“It’s good, man,” he said. “Contribute any way I can. Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do it.
“Go out there with a smile on your face and enjoy the game because you never know when it might be your last."
Miller passed for over 5,000 yards and ran for over 3,000 yards in first three years at OSU before catching 26 passes for 341 yards and three TDs as a senior wide receiver.
Along with guys like Colin Kaepernick and former Eagles Vince Young and Brad Smith, he’s one of only 12 college players in the last 20 years with 5,000 passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards.
He’s the only one of that group who also had at least 10 receptions.
So running around as the multi-talented Cam Newton on the scout team came naturally for Miller.
“Brings me back to the old days,” he said. “It’s fun. Do my best, play loose, be myself.”
The reality is that if Miller is going to make it in the NFL at this point, it’ll be as a wide receiver.
He’s been with the Eagles since Sept. 10 learning the offense and trying to impress the coaches any way he can.
“Progressing every day, learning something new every day, listening to the coaches,” he said. “Came in here ready to learn each and every day.
“I’m a competitor. I’ve been playing all my life. Being out there talking to the guys and cheering them on on the sideline. It’s a different point of view, but I love it. As long as I’m out there and still involved, it’s all good.”
But you can tell he’s really enjoying playing quarterback again, even if it’s temporary.
“Feels great being back in that leadership role back, ya know?” he said. “Having the ball in your hands every pay and just making plays. Had a couple nice runs this week that were dope.”
Does it make him think about playing quarterback again?
“I think about it all the time,” he said. “It would be cool to do it again, but I had the surgery so God had a different direction for me.”
And what about Newton’s signature Superman celebration?
That’s one facet of Newton’s game you won't see Miller adopt.
“That’s Cam’s swag,” Miller said. “I don’t want to steal his swag. I have my own look.”
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