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Miami Dolphins

Chronic knee soreness may be slowing Jay Ajayi’s development

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Frank Mattia/Icon Sportswire

The only real concern anyone had about running back Jay Ajayi when he first came out of college at Boise State three years ago centered around the stability of his surgically repaired right knee.

Though he was three years removed from his ACL surgery at the time, there was talk around the NFL that the knee might need constant treatment and attention in order to keep Ajayi on the field.

It’s beginning to look as though those reports were accurate.

Ajayi isn’t injured but he often misses a day of practice each week – usually Thursday – to rest and get treatment on his knee, which has been the source of chronic soreness since at least the end of the preseason.

The good news is that the issue doesn’t seem to be effecting Ajayi as a runner in any way. He went into this week’s action averaging 20.4 carries per game and ranked seventh overall in the NFL with 391 rushing yards.

The bad news is that it does seem to be effecting his development as a pass catcher. At least, that’s what we can derive from what we heard from Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen on Thursday.

“It is kind of an issue (because) he doesn’t practice every single day,’’ Christensen said. “So he probably needs the extra reps in the passing game, but when you get him out there you want to get your runs called.

 “I mean, he’s still a million miles ahead of (where he was as a pass catcher) a year and a half ago when we first got here, but he’s not where we want him to be.’’

 It’s not just Ajayi’s development that’s suffering. His chemistry with Jay Cutler isn’t where the Dolphins would like it to be either. One look at Ajayi’s stats tells you that.

He’s caught just seven of the 12 passes he’s been the target of so far this year and was 0-for-3 a week ago during the Dolphins comeback victory over the Falcons in Atlanta.

The Dolphins have compensated by making greater use of Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake on obvious passing downs but the belief is they’d be better off with their best back on the field in those situations.

There is no doubt that Ajayi has three-down abilities and the Dolphins would like to tap into Ajayi’s pass-catching skills a bit more but they’ve been slow to do so and it’s largely because of his knee.

For starters, the Dolphins see those third- or obvious passing downs as a perfect opportunity to give the hard-running Ajayi and his knee a bit of a breather, which makes sense.

Secondly, and this is largely because he’s been forced consistently to miss valuable practice time in order to be ready for game day, he’s still not as adept at that facet of the game as they’d like him to be.

 “He’s getting there,’’ Christensen said of Ajayi’s pass-catching. “He works hard at it but sometimes when (the trainers) are working on his knee, he has to rest and doesn’t get the extra work. And that takes a toll.’’

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Colby

    October 20, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    He misses one day a week of practice because there is no need for him to risk an injury. He’s not being kept out because he can’t practice. This is honestly one of the most ignorant articles I’ve read in quite some time. You can’t tell me it’s slowing his development when he’s broken the most tackles in the NFL thus far.

  2. LambNation

    October 21, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    I agree, you’re writing click bait because you aren’t original. He gets a day off because he runs like a Savage and we play 16 weeks straight. We do this with many players to stay healthy. Learn your craft.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins lose DE William Hayes for season with torn ACL

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The news is not all good on Monday morning at for the Dolphins after their 28 – 20 triumph over the Raiders. This after head coach Adam Gase revealed at his day after the game news conference that defensive end William Hayes has suffered a torn ACL and will be going on injured reserve.

Hayes, who did not start the game, but did have a sack and two tackles, has been a reserve defensive end for the last two seasons in Miami. He was originally a member of the Titans for four seasons before playing for the Rams for five years and then coming as a free agent to Miami in 2017.

Hayes had also been playing with a cast on his hand with an injury suffered in the week 1 game with Tennessee.

Hayes was injured trying to sack quarterback Derek Carr late in the first half Sunday. Gase told the media that in reviewing the coaches tape, it’s obvious that Hayes was trying not to land on Carr, when he planted awkwardly on his knee tearing the ACL.

Joe Schad, Dolphins beat writer for the Palm Beach Post provided more visual insight here:

The new rules and point of emphasis on not driving quarterbacks, specifically, into the ground on hits is already creating fury among pass-rushers all over the league.

Green Bay’s Clay Matthews was flagged for it Sunday for the second consecutive week after he put a hit on the Redskins QB Alex Smith. He landed on him going to the ground drawing a 15-yard penalty. Mathews was very outspoken after the game about how the league and the officials were now going to hamper a pass-rusher is ability to do his job by having him account for not wrapping up or landing on a player that they are actually tackling.

Again, that goes to the point of how Hayes apparently injured himself and will be lost for the rest of the year

The Fins obviously have players like Robert Quinn, Cameron Wake and former first-round pick Charles Harris that can still rush the quarterback.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins hit big plays against Raiders to remain unbeaten

Florida Football Insiders

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Another Sunday of big plays and another win for the Dolphins, who for the first time since 2013 are 3 – 0. This after dealing the Raiders their third straight loss in a 28-20 come-from-behind victory at Hard Rock Stadium.

After Oakland scored almost immediately, when quarterback Derek Carr hit Jordy Nelson on a long completion and then with a red zone touchdown pass, Miami found themselves trailing quickly 7 to nothing.

But from there on, the Fins began to hit the Raiders with one big play after another. That started with a 34-yard beautifully thrown touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a streaking Kenny Stills to tie the game 7-7.

The Raiders actually took a 10-7 lead into the locker room and then put together a lengthy drive capped with a Marshawn Lynch up and over touchdown in a 17-7 lead.

However, the Dolphins were not fazed and 2 minutes of clock time later had marched into Raiders scoring territory. That’s when Jakeem Grant took an inside flip hand off from Tannehill (above) and raced around the right end to cut the lead to 17 – 14.

Next, head coach Adam Gase went into the” bag of tricks” and after a double hand off, receiver Albert Wilson fired this long pass to Grant down the right sideline:

The 52-yard trick play touchdown, gave Miami the lead for the first time at 21-17.

The Raiders tried to mount a go ahead drive but Derek Carr’s the pass for Martavis Bryant was picked off by Xavien Howard ending their threat.

Next, Wilson caught another short pass from Tannehill and did the rest, racing around the left sideline for a 72-yard score at the 2-minute warning, which put the game away.

Tannehill finished 17-23 for 289 yards and the three TD passes. Carr had 345 yards and a TD in the losing effort, but also two costly interceptions.

The Dolphins are 3-0 for the first time since 2013. That team finished 8-8 and still missed the playoffs.

The Raiders fanfare of hiring Jon Gruden out of the Monday Night Football booth is over, as they are now 0-3 and already three games behind the Chiefs, who won Sunday.

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Miami Dolphins

Gameday- Dolphins host Raiders looking to remain unbeaten

Florida Football Insiders

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Who:  Dolphins (2-0) vs. Raiders (0-2)

Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens

When: Sunday 1 p.m.

Spread: Dolphins by 3 (Courtesy Vegasinsider.com)

Miami has opened by winning the first two games for the first time since 2013 and now has a golden opportunity to get to 3 – 0 today. Here’s what we’re watching

Progression of Ryan Tannehill

Coming off a solid start by spreading the ball around to numerous receivers, Ryan Tannehill will look to keep it up. The Raiders defense is obviously reeling after the trading of Khalil Mack on the eve of the season, and Tannehill may be able to take advantage of the Oakland secondary.

Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson as the deep threats could do significant damage later today. Look for coach Adam Gase and coordinator Dowell Loggains to test them early.

Does Derek Carr follow up last week’s performance?

Oakland’s 5th Year quarterback was tremendous for much of the Denver game a week ago, completing 23 of his first 24 passes. With the Raiders getting acclimated to Jon Gruden’s new offense and terminology, it’s still obvious they want to get the ball out of Carr’s hand quickly with short throws.

Another part of Oakland’s offensive success is the early running of Marshawn Lynch, who is questionable for this game with an injured shoulder. They would like to set up play action with Lynch or backup running back Jalen Richard. If Miami can stuff the run, it will help greatly in stopping the Raiders attack.

Dolphins defense continues its optimistic play?

Whether it was surviving the two lengthy weather delays two weeks ago against the Titans with key sacks and takeaways, or last week in New York with frustrating rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, Miami has been able to make plays at times.

That needs to continue on Sunday. Safety Reshad Jones will be a game-time decision with his injured shoulder and that could affect their defensive scheme for coordinator Matt Burke.

If Miami’s pass rushers, Robert Quinn, Cameron Wake, Charles Harris, Etc can get to Carr it will make life easier at Hard Rock Stadium.

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