(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
By Nate Hanson, Sports Radio KJR
Zach Miller finished last season with his best game of the season. He had eight catches for 142 yards and a touchdown, all while playing with a torn plantar fascia. Miller was a go-to target in the Seahawks divisional playoff loss in Atlanta. He will take the field week 1 as the Seahawks starting tight end. But what happens if Miller gets hurt? That’s the question Eric Williams of The News Tribune posed to The Furness Show.
Miller finished the regular season with 38 receptions for 396 yards and three touchdowns. He had a reception in all but one of Seattle’s games. Also, Miller is one of the better run-blocking tight ends in the NFL. Miller was on the field for 88 percent of last season’s snaps. He is a key contributor to Darrell Bevell’s offensive scheme.
"It's important, not only in the pass game but in the run game," Williams said. "His ability to motion in and out, to line up as a fullback sometimes as a lead blocker for Marshawn."
Last year, the Seahawks could rely on Anthony McCoy to spell Miller. McCoy played in every regular season game and had a taste for the end zone. He had only 18 receptions last year, but three of them were for touchdowns. McCoy was cut by the Seahawks after he suffered a torn Achilles tendon during OTAs in May. This left Seattle with six tight ends on the roster, but Miller the only one with a career reception.
"They don't really have a guy like that behind him, at least a proven guy," Williams said.
Seattle added a seventh tight end today to bolster experience at the position with the signing of fourth-year tight end Michael Palmer. Palmer only has 21 career receptions, but he’s played in 43 games giving the team much-needed experience at the tight end spot. The Seahawks do not need their backup tight end to make highlight reel plays. They just need a guy who can run-block for Lynch and catch footballs if open. Palmer is a guy who could fill that void.
"You could add a little bit more depth there and you maybe feel a little bit more better about that position group," Williams said.
Palmer is going to have to earn his position though. Second-year pro Sean McGrath is expected to compete for the spot. Rookie tight end Luke Wilson was impressive during offseason workouts. Still, Wilson was a fifth-round pick and it may be unfair to expect Wilson to make an immediate difference in his rookie campaign. Not everyone is Richard Sherman.
Miller is sometimes an afterthought on the list of Seahawks offensive weapons. But he is as important to Seattle’s offense as a player like Percy Harvin. Miller might be even be more crucial because of his role in both the passing and running game. If you are looking for a position battle heading into training camp, turn your attention to the second-string tight end spot. If Miller suffers an injury, the winner of that battle will have to step up and fill the large void.
You can listen to the entire interview here: