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At some point, NFL teams will figure out that Scotty Miller is one of the fastest players in the league. The Buccaneers just hope that doesn’t happen for one more game.
Underestimate the second-year Tampa Bay receiver at your own risk. Ask Packers cornerback Kevin King, who was torched by Miller on a 39-yard touchdown pass in the waning seconds of the first half of the NFC Championship game two weeks ago at Green Bay.
With 8 seconds remaining in the second quarter, King inexplicably let Miller get behind him and allowed the game-turning TD that gave the Bucs a 21-10 halftime lead.
“Right when I took off and I saw [King] not running, in my head I’m like, ‘Dude, No. 20, you better start running,’ ” Miller recalled.
Sure, it was a terrible defensive play call by the Packers, given the circumstances, but King underestimated Miller’s speed.
Miller, a 2019 sixth-round draft pick out of Bowling Green, believes he has been underestimated his entire life, and he thrives because of it.
“I’m not sure why guys continue to sit on him,’’ Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday. “After 20 weeks, you would think there would be some respect about his speed. I’m sure there will be Sunday.’’
Arians and Miller, of course, hope not.
Scotty MillerTANNEN MAURY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstoc
“People still underestimate my speed,’’ Miller said Wednesday, sounding somewhat incredulous. “I think at this point in my career and in college, if anyone’s looking at the scouting report, they should know I’m usually the speed guy, whatever team I’m on. I’m very confident with my speed. I think I can run with anyone anywhere.
But I can’t control that.’’
Miller made headlines last week when, on “The Dan Patrick Show,” he touted himself as faster than Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill.
“I’m taking me every day of the week,” Miller said. “I’ll take me over anybody. Tyreek is unbelievable, super quick, unbelievable talent. But if we’re talking about a race, I’ve got all the confidence in myself going up against anybody.”
Hill’s response to Miller’s radio interview was, “Someone line that up for us.”
On Wednesday, Miller respectfully doubled down.
“I’d love to race him,’’ he said. “Let the best man win.”
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Then he added: “I should have known that statement was going to blow up. But I haven’t really gotten anywhere not being confident in this profession or in life. I just answered that question confidently and said what I thought. I have so much respect for Tyreek Hill and everything he’s done. I’m hoping to have a similar career to him.”
Much of Miller’s motivation comes from a life in which he believes he’s been slighted.
Before he married his wife, Jenna Rizkalla — a Westfield, N.J., native and former Rutgers gymnast — the background picture on Miller’s cell phone was of the four receivers who were voted to the Mid-American Conference first team over him.
Miller was not invited to the Senior Bowl or the NFL Scouting Combine last year, which rankled him.
“It’s a crazy underdog story,’’ Miller said.
I’ve kind of been doubted my whole life because of my size. But I’ve earned everything I’ve gotten. But every time I’ve gotten the opportunity, I was able to make a play.’’
Miller caught 33 passes for a 15.2-yard average and three TDs during the regular season and has four catches for 80 yards and that TD against Green Bay in the postseason.
Playing a lot of slot receiver in college, he studied Brady’s former go-to receivers with the Patriots, Wes Welker and Julian Edelman, on his iPad.
“Those guys did a great job developing a trust with Tom, and that’s something that I’ve tried to do, so he can trust me on every single play that he knows exactly where I’m going to be,’’ Miller said, “and, I’m going to win [my matchup] and make a play on the ball.’’