Getting used to seeing himself in a new uniform took a little time for just-signed Pro Bowl tight end Zach Miller. But his adjustment period to the new-look running game took no time at all.
Now that Zach Miller has been a Seahawk for all of six days, he can admit the obvious.
“The first day, it definitely was an adjustment when you look in the mirror,” the club’s new tight end said Monday between sessions at the team’s training camp. “It’s almost a surprise.”
That’s because the player looking back at Miller is wearing Seahawks blue and a Seahawks logo on his helmet – not the silver and black of the Raiders that he wore the past four seasons in Oakland.
Surprising, but pleasantly so.
“As much as you imagine it, you don’t realize it until you see it,” the Raider-turned-Seahawk said.
What the Seahawks are hoping to see from Miller – no, planning on seeing – is the same kind of production Miller had in Oakland. He caught a team-high 60 passes for 685 yards and five touchdowns last season, when he was voted to the AFC Pro Bowl squad. Miller was even more productive in 2009, leading the team with 66 receptions for 805 yards and three TDs.
“Oh, I’ve been watching him since he was in Oakland, so I’m familiar with him a little bit just by watching,” new QB Tarvaris Jackson said last Thursday, when he and Miller practiced with the Seahawks for the first time.
“I’m a football fan, so I watch a lot of football whenever I get a chance. First day, man, he seemed like he pretty much knew the offense. I don’t know what kind of offense they run in Oakland, but he was sound and he got everything down from what I saw.”
As soon as Miller had agreed to sign with the Seahawks last week, coach Pete Carroll talked about using him in tandem with incumbent starter John Carlson – who holds the franchise records by a tight end for receptions (55 in 2008), receiving yards (627 in ’08) and TD catches (seven in 2009).
Now, he’s showing it on the practice field as the team prepares for its nationally televised preseason opener against the Chargers in San Diego on Thursday night. That’s the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Miller working with the 6-5, 251-pound Carlson, as well as 6-5, 235-pound split end Mike Williams and just-signed 6-4, 204-pound flanker Sidney Rice.
Connect the dots between those impressive dimensions and it creates the perfect picture of a mismatch for some overmatched defensive back.
“With all those receivers on the field, it’s going to be interesting to see what the defenses try and do to stop it,” Miller said.
But Miller, 25, isn’t just a pass-catcher. He prides himself on being a complete player, which also means making blocking in the running game that is now being installed by assistant head coach/line coach Tom Cable – who also was in Oakland the past four seasons.
Last season, the Seahawks ranked 31st in the league in rushing offense. That won’t continue this season. Not if Cable has anything to say about it, and Miller is well aware that Cable obviously will.
“You know if Cable’s here you’re going to run the football,” Miller said. “He’s proven it. His run system works.”
It certainly did against the Seahawks last season, when the Raiders rolled up 239 rushing yards against them in Week and averaged 155.9 yards to rank second in the league.
“Cable has been successful with it everywhere he’s been,” Miller said. “And we have the ingredients here to make it work.”
Included in that group is the three-headed, six-legged trio of Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett and Leon Washington; as well as a young line that now is anchored by veteran left tackle Robert Gallery, who also was with Miller in Oakland.
“The offensive line is, for the most part, young,” Miller said. “They’re going to get a chance to grow as a group and having Gallery is a great thing for them, obviously, because he’s been in the system for so long. So he can help all those guys out.
“It’s going to be a scary offense when all is said and done.”
Cable’s presence was a significant advantage for the Seahawks when Miller was contemplating whether to re-sign with the Raiders or take his talents up the coast.
“Cable being here was a big deal,” Miller said. “I’m familiar with him. I know his run system. So the good part has been kind of having that in my back pocket. I know how he is as a coach. I know I trust him – I can trust what he says, trust what he tells me.
“That definitely was a big part in my decision.”
Now that the choice has been made there’s no looking back – or even reason to.
“I’m absolutely pleased with the decision,” Miller said. “I couldn’t be happier.”
He’s not alone in that assessment.
“I think this is a fantastic move for us,” Carroll said. “Zach is a great football player; he’s a great person and a great competitor.
“So we’ve added another really good football player to our team.”
Even if that player admits it took a few glances into the mirror to realize he really was part of the team.