Buckeyes taking it slow with Braxton Miller

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Braxton Miller may have zipped right though his rehabilitation, but the next phase in his return from shoulder surgery is going to be much more methodical.

The Ohio State quarterback is on what amounts to a pitch count early in training camp, limiting his involvement in team periods as the coaching staff slowly builds the strength back up in the arm of the star senior.

And while at times that made him look like little more than another observer during an open practice on Wednesday, the Buckeyes are stressing that it’s all part of a plan to make sure he’s exactly where he needs to be by the end of the month for the opener against Navy.

“Nah, nothing [wrong] 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.

“Mental reps are one of the best things you can do, so I’m not complaining.”

That mental work behind the rest of the offense was all he could do in the spring after the Buckeyes elected to have the procedure done on a shoulder he injured early in the Discover Orange Bowl. And minus the sling that he was wearing during a few workouts in March and April, Miller spent the majority of his time Wednesday working through coverages, looking at receivers and communicating with the coaches while backups J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones were doing the physical work.

The extra work for the backups could prove invaluable for a team trying to fill a void in the No. 2 spot under center, a role that was critical during each of the past two seasons when Miller was injured and Kenny Guiton came off the bench to keep the high-powered attack rolling. But it also ensures that Miller isn’t doing too much before he’s ready for a full load, throttling back on a guy that knocked out one planned stage of his rehab that involved throwing tennis balls in just a single day.

“He’s come along well from what I’ve seen,” co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said. “Now, we haven’t done much with him yet. We’re kind of bringing him along slowly. I think we have a really good plan to get him where he needs to be Aug. 30, and we don’t need to rush it.

“The guy has played for three years, so just bring him along like a pitcher in spring training, you know? An inning, then two innings, then three innings and by the time opening day comes, he can pitch seven innings for you or eight innings or whatever you need. So, I think we’re doing that the right way. It’s just part of the plan.”

The Buckeyes are in no hurry to skip any steps, either. They’re well aware of the importance of getting complete games out of their ace when it actually matters.