Da’Ron (or Daron) Payne is considered a rare behemoth, with not only space-eating power but the strength to go along with it. He weighs in at 6’3″, 311, and bench presses easily over 450 pounds. Da’Ron also commands the line and teams had a hard time running on him- even when using a double team. With other great talent on the line at Alabama, it took sometime for Payne to break into the starting lineup. In 2017 he finished with 53 total tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, 3 pass deflections, and a fumble recovery. He flew up the draft boards with his solid combine results. This allowed Da’Ron to be selected 13th by the Washington Redskins.
Turning heads in mini-camp, Daron will slide into the Redskins alignment at defensive tackle and may even play a bit of nose. A nagging ankle injury during camp though limited his reps and he didn’t really play much during the preseason. Daron had an impressive debut in the NFL. Shifting from defensive tackle to nose depending on the alignment, Payne started all 16 games for Washington, and posted 56 combined tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 3 pass deflections and a forced fumble.
Well 2019 is off to a good start with my first official success in Mark Carrier former Bucs, Browns, and Panthers receiver. Along the way with all three franchises he seemed to leave an indelible and respectable mark on each franchise. It wasn’t until 2018 that wide receiver Mike Evans of the Bucs broke Mark’s single season receiving yardage record for the franchise during the last game of the season. A stellar TTM respondent, Mark signs virtually everything- provided you of course don’t confuse him with the defensive back from the same era. As this is the 10th year I’ve been back at the game, I’ve decided to dust off the books and write some of those players who responded to me over the years. Mark was one of those who responded way, way back in 2011, signing a slew of cards for me.
In 2014, Mark announced the Panthers second round pick at the draft. As of this post he is the Director of Player Relations for the team.
A player with a stack of amazing cards, I had wanted to reload and get back to Mark again for a few more that I had overlooked.
Probably my favorite of this stack is the Upper Deck 1992 Buccaneers Checklist. The artwork is just amazing on this card. They just don’t make them like they used to anymore. The bold outline around the card is just right and frames the image in a very classy way. I especially like how Mark’s profile image and him catching the football take precedence over the buccaneers by simple boldness of color.
His 1,000 Yard Club card was like most cards from Topps to me at the time- always at least a distant 3rd or 4th in quality or interest to me. While the look is quite dated, that is part of the charm of this card. The boldness of the yellow combined with the orange and green is typical of design from that era. Still it is a great photo of him and at the time it was the only glossy card that was in each pack.
As usual during this period for the most part, Action Packed set a high bar for others to follow in terms of photo quality. This card was no different, and is an exciting action shot of Mark. Most photos it seemed were also framed from this distance in the set as well in a very comfortable ‘in your face’ distance. I didn’t have this card but when I saw it, I knew it’d look amazing autographed so I picked up one.
The GameDay 1992 card feels like the weakest to me of the group. Maybe because it is the only one with a defender in the image, or the fact that the rules of the card are for only the main subject to be in color, take away from the overall shot, but regardless- this was more of a set need than anything else.
Mark has a pretty solid autograph all the way around. The looping C in his last name really makes his mark go.
Lamar Miller has moved into white whale territory for me. I have been trying hard to get his autograph for the past few years now. I even went to what I thought was a signing down in Houston that he was doing at a bank. When I arrived after fighting my way through the rain, I found out that he was not going to sign outside items. There is no greater annoyance than an event not posting on their website that outside items are not allowed. I attempted to appeal to Lamar through his Twitter feed but, alas I was out of luck. It was a low point to my collecting- and it did some damage to my interest in making these long distance drives to autograph events around the state.
Lamar played for the Hurricanes from 2010 to 2011. He piled up the numbers in 2011 posting 227 carries for 1272 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also got involved in the passing game, catching 17 passes, and a little bit of time in the return game. He’d be selected by the Miami Dolphins in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Lamar worked his way into the starting lineup in 2013, starting 15 games that year. His first impact season came in 2014 when Miller ran for 1099 yards and 8 TDs including a 97 yarder. Over the years, Lamar became more involved in the passing game catching a career high 47 passes in 2015.
In 2016 the Houston Texans were looking to reload at two workhorse positions, quarterback and runningback. The Texans plucked the two highest rated players from the free agency pool: Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller on the same day. I was beside myself with the signing of Miller. I knew that he was going to be counted on to replace Arian Foster. When given the choice of getting an Osweiler or Lamar Miller jersey- I didn’t skip a beat in selecting Lamar. During his first season with the Texans, he carried the ball a career high 268 times, but the Texans essentially ran him into the ground. He finished with 1073 yards on the season in 14 starts. In his crowning moment, the Texans came back for victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Lamar caught a pass and did a 360 spin and dodged 3 would be tacklers en route to the endzone.
2017 was a down year for Lamar. He’d carry the ball 238 times for 888 yards in 13 starts and catch a career high 3 TDs. I am of the opinion that the team’s offensive scheme doesn’t compliment Lamar’s running style. Lamar is a great slasher back. You get him outside the tackles and let him work in open space and he’s pretty amazing.
In 2018, Lamar earned his first Pro Bowl appearance. Starting 14 contests he put together 973 yards on 210 carries. His 4.6 YPC was his highest since 2014. He’d also become the first RB in NFL history with two 95+ yard TD runs- in his career, as he torched the Tennessee Titans during a pivotal matchup for a 97 yard gallop. Miller also chipped in 163 yards on 25 receptions.
Considered the incumbent back entering 2019, Miller looks to build off of an encouraging 2018 campaign.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.