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Braxton Miller still limited in practice, should Ohio State be worried?

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller may be one of the most explosive quarterbacks the Big Ten has ever seen, but he’s also one of the most injury-prone we’ve ever seen as well. So, when we get reports out of Buckeyes’ fall camp that say he is being limited in practice, one could give pause for concern.

When asked about his shoulder, Miller told ESPN.com last week that he was progressing just fine and throwing a football ahead of fall camp opening up.

“Nah, nothing at all,” Miller said as he walked off the practice field. “I’m 100 percent, just trying to stay healthy. I’ve got to get it back in shape.”

Call me crazy, but I’m not buying what Miller is selling. Sure, mental reps for a quarterback can be a good tool, but the reality is nothing prepares you to compete on the field than by actually playing the game. For Miller, that means throwing the football — something he has done very little of up to this point in time.

I mean, we’re talking about a shoulder injury that happened nearly eight months ago and didn’t require surgery. Given Miller’s dual-threat capabilities, a lengthly rehab and a shaky shoulder have to be a concern from Ohio State’s coaching staff and fans alike.

What’s even worse is the thought of Miller going down for a prolonged period of time in 2014. There is no Kenny Guiton ready to come in and lead the offense like nothing happened. Guiton graduated this spring and what is left behind is a group of quarterbacks with next to no experience at the collegiate level.

Sophomore Cardale Jones is the only one to have thrown a pass in a college football game, going 1-of-2 for three yards in his redshirt freshman season last year. Behind him are three other underclassmen in sophomore Luke Morgan and freshmen J.T. Barrett and Stephen Collier.

Ohio State also doesn’t have the luxury of leaning on a 1,000-yard rusher like Carlos Hyde behind Miller. Sure, the Buckeyes have some good talent in the likes of Ezekiel Elliot, Bri’onte Dunn and Rod Smith — but none of them have proven to be able to take on a full-season’s load of carries just yet.

All of those factors combine to make one worry about the inability of Miller to be a full competitor in fall camp. It’s not as if he doesn’t have things to work on in the pass game either. That is the one area where Miller still needs improvement — albeit a lot less than heading in to last season.

Then we got the news of Miller missing the Buckeyes’ first fall scrimmage over this past weekend, with the team citing “shoulder soreness” as the reason behind it.

However, head coach Urban Meyer publicly doesn’t seem too worried about Miller missing the start of fall camp.

“It’s still early,” coach Urban Meyer said, via Cleveland.com. “If this were next Saturday and he didn’t go, then it’s going to hinder our progress.”

Offensive coordinator Tom Herman may have put it best regarding the worries that Ohio State fans and coaches should have with Miller being out of physical action for so long.

“Physically getting out there and doing it, we’ve got to get cranked up,” Herman said. “With the limitations on the shoulder, mental reps are only going to take you so far. You have got to get in there and get into the fire and throw the ball around.” 

Plain and simple, Miller needs to stay healthy for the Buckeyes to have a shot at the Big Ten and National titles. The fact that we’re a few weeks in to camp and he isn’t fully participating in camp should be worrisome to fans and coaches alike.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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