Raiders rookie offensive tackle Kolton Miller has had a rough first season in terms of injuries and efficiency of play.
The first-round pick from UCLA – who took over Donald Penn’s starting role at left tackle – has especially been hampered by a sprained right knee that has hampered his ability to move. His athletic ability was one of the reasons the Raiders loved him, but he just can’t move the way he did earlier this season.
That has hurt Miller’s play, particularly in pass protection.
In the Raiders’ loss to the Chargers this past Sunday, Miller gave up a sack and eight total pressures in 43 pass-block snaps, according to Mike Guerrelli of the analytic website Pro Football Focus.
Wrote Guerrelli: “Through Week 10, Miller has surrendered the most sacks (10) and the second-most total pressures (39) of any NFL offensive lineman.”
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden isn’t looking at those stats, however, when he evaluates Miller’s ability and progress this season. He sees Miller fighting through adversity.
“I think what you’re dealing with Miller is one of the most mentally tough kids that you will find,” Gruden told the team’s website this week. “I think he’s gaining strength from playing. I think he’s really learning a lot about this business the hard way. Not only losing, not only playing hurt, playing from behind a lot, but learning how to play well against great rushers when you’re not at your best. That’s really the definition of a lot of thse great pro football players.”
Gruden added that for Miller to keep battling under tough circumstances is “really exciting.”
Aside from the knee injury, Miller also is playing with an injury to his right elbow.
“You’ve got to battle through,” Miller told reporters recently. “This isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with something like this over this season. It’s not as bad as the first time anyway, so that makes it a bit easier.”
The Raiders will travel to Arizona this week to play the Cardinals Sunday. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m.