DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Miami Dolphins rookie running back Jay Ajayi has performed over the last three games like the team’s front office envisioned back in May when he was drafted in the fifth round.
The 6-foot, 228-pound bruiser out of Boise State is averaging 6.8 yards per carry and has forced opposing defenses to not focus their entire strategy on stopping veteran Lamar Miller. The rib injury that landed Ajayi on the injured reserve/designated to return list at the start of the season is a distant memory, and he’ll play in his fourth game Sunday at the New York Jets.
Ajayi credits the work he put in during his time on IR, along with the work of the team’s medical and training staff, for allowing him to play with no visible signs of rust. His physical style has resulted in 102 yards on 15 carries and two receptions for 23 yards.
“I feel that I’m a violent runner, punishing, like a train,” said Ajayi, who rushed for 3,796 yards and 50 touchdowns in college. “I’m just trying to get to my destination, which is the end zone, trying to score and pick up first downs and make big plays for this team.”
Miami’s offensive line also benefits from being able to block with two versatile runners like Miller and Ajayi. There has been a noticeable difference in intensity since Ajayi’s return.
“He’s a guy that runs with an attitude and has a very mean demeanor,” center Mike Pouncey said. “He’s looking to run guys over and not run around guys. He gave our offense a spark the way he runs the football, so we look forward to getting him more carries.”
It’s been quite some time since the Dolphins had a productive tandem of running backs with such different styles. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams were very similar in stature when they shared the backfield from 2008-10, so you’d have to go back to the early 1970s when Hall of Fame fullback Larry Csonka split carries with the speedy and shifty Mercury Morris.
“We feel like we’ve got two backs that are a little bit unique, a little bit different, but complement each other well,” interim coach Dan Campbell said. “You’ve got somebody who is a little bit better in space (Miller), can hit the holes and take it the distance. We feel like we have that back who will put his foot in the ground and go downhill (Ajayi). We’re happy with both of them.”
NOTES: Wide receiver Jarvis Landry (knee) did not practice Friday after doing limited work on Thursday. . Safety Walt Aikens (ankle) practiced in full after being limited the previous two days.
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