It would be understandable if, three quarters into what looks like a redshirt season, Eagles rookie Shareef Miller was running low on confidence.
Instead, the opposite has happened.
Because, sure, Miller hasn’t played a single defensive snap all season. But the fourth-round pick is absolutely convinced he’s a better player now than when he came in the league. And he thought he was pretty good before.
“If I can get some snaps, they gonna know,” Miller said. “They definitely gonna know. There’s a lot of people out there talking. But I understand it, so stuff don’t bother me. I know what kind of player I am.”
Through 12 games, Miller has been inactive 10 times. In those other two games, he’s played a total of two special teams snaps.
This isn’t what the 22-year-old expected from his rookie NFL season, but he’s trying to take it in stride, he’s trying to be patient. He has accepted and thrown himself into his role, which means giving the best possible look for the Eagles’ offensive line as a scout team player.
The Philly native has heard some of his detractors. There are some folks ready to call him a bust, which is probably more indicative of society in 2019 than it is of Eagles fans or any fans, for that matter. Miller tries to not pay any attention to the noise.
“It really ain’t my fault,” Miller said. “It ain’t got nothing to do with my ability or talent at all. It’s a numbers game. That I learned. I just gotta wait my time.”
Starting defensive end Derek Barnett is coming into Monday’s game with an ankle injury, so perhaps there might be a small role for Miller in this game. But the Eagles still have Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry and Josh Sweat and Daeshon Hall and Genard Avery. It would be nice to see the fourth-round pick contribute, but there are a lot of bodies in front of him.
As a scout team player, Miller has been rushing from the left side of the defensive line in each practice. That means going against Lane Johnson daily.
Miller thinks all those reps against one of the best tackles in the game has really helped him.
“Hell yeah,” Miller said. “Lane’s the best tackle in the league, so I go against him and get better. I talk to him about rush angles and get his feedback from what he’s seeing from me and stuff.”
From the time the Eagles used the last pick in the fourth round on Miller, he wasn’t expected to play a very big role this season. This has basically become a redshirt season for the Penn State product.
At times, it can be hard to stay patient. But Miller doesn’t have much of a choice.
“I’m good,” Miller said. “I’m young, I’m a rookie, I’m only 22. Still got a lot of time. My time’s gonna come. When my opportunity comes, I’m going to make the most of it.”
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