Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said Ajay's receiving skills have improved 200 percent in comparison to last season, ESPN.com's James Walker reports.
Ajayi had 50 receptions for 535 yards and four touchdowns in his final season at Boise State, but that pass-catching ability has yet to translate to the NFL, with the 2015 fifth-round selection catching only 34 passes for 241 yards in 24 professional appearances. He broke out for a 260-1,272-8 rushing line last season, adding 27 catches (on 34 targets) for a meager 151 yards -- managing nearly as many yards per carry (4.9) as yards per reception (5.6). While he still figures to cede at least a portion of the passing-down snaps to Damien Williams and/or Kenyan Drake, it sounds as if Ajayi will be more involved as a receiver this season.
Head coach Adam Gase wants Ajayi to play more snaps next season, the Miami Herald reports.
Gase also said he wants to find ways to get Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams more involved without taking touches away from Ajayi, who had 260 carries but just 27 catches in 2016. He'll enter offseason workouts serving as Miami's unquestioned lead runner, with the potential to take on even more work if he displays improvement as a receiver and pass blocker. It's also worth noting that the 2016 Dolphins ranked last in the league by a wide margin with just 57.4 offensive snaps per game, which means there should be more total work up for grabs next season.
Ajayi ran into a Steelers run defense determined to avenge the embarrassment he'd caused them back in Week 6 down in South Florida, when he'd rumbled for 204 yards and two touchdowns, his first of what would be three 200-yard tallies on the season. Ajayi found running room at a premium from the opening possession, and ultimately counted an eight-yard run as his longest of the afternoon. The 23-year-old, who appeared to have been injured late in the regular-season finale against the Patriots, also left the field with a shoulder stinger in the latter stages of Sunday's contest. Despite the disappointing finish to the season, the 23-year-old served notice to the rest of the league in 2016 with a 1,272-yard regular-season campaign that also included eight touchdowns, even as he failed to see double-digit carries in a game until Week 5.
Per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, the running back appeared to be headed to the X-Ray room after Week 17's loss to the Patriots. The fact that Ajayi is not listed on the team's injury report supports the optimism that the Dolphins' top rusher relayed afterward with regard to his unspecified issue.
Ajayi also declared "I'm good" in response to questions about this status, though it should be noted that he was seen walking to the X-ray room some time prior to making that statement. If the running back is to be taken at his word, then his status for next weekend's wild-card game versus the Steelers shouldn't be in question. However, his progression through the practice week will ultimately tell the tale with respect to his ability to suit up for what will be Miami's first playoff game since the 2008 season.
|P3||8/24/17||@ PHI||7:00 pm|
|P4||8/31/17||@ MIN||8:00 pm|
|2||9/17/17||@ LAC||4:05 pm|
|3||9/24/17||@ NYJ||1:00 pm|
|6||10/15/17||@ ATL||1:00 pm|
|8||10/26/17||@ BAL||8:25 pm|
|10||11/13/17||@ CAR||8:30 pm|
|Bye: Week 11|
|12||11/26/17||@ NE||1:00 pm|
|15||12/17/17||@ BUF||1:00 pm|
|16||12/24/17||@ KC||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|