There certainly has been turnover in the Dolphins backfield over the last two years. Consider, that coach Adam Gase began his first season in 2016 with veteran Arian Foster expected to carry the load, but he abruptly retired midway through the first part of that year.
The Dolphins then turned to second year Jay Ajayi, who made history with back to back 200 yard rushing games, on his way to a monster Pro Bowl season that helped the Fins make the playoffs.
However, by October of last year, with the Fins offense sputtering, Ajayi was essentially singled out as a part of the problem by Gase and dealt to the Eagles.
Then, Miami turned to Kenyan Drake down the stretch. As we wrote then, Drake got off to a great start as a feature back in a game with the Broncos, but it didn’t necessarily bode for him to be the long term solution.
He did average 18 carries a game in the last five contests, but that was more out of necessity, especially when the other reserve, Damien Williams, suffered a shoulder injury. Clearly, Miami was still searching.
And, they entertained signing the Titans veteran Pro Bowler DeMarco Murray last month, but passed on him. Instead, they elected to sign free agent and former Miami Hurricanes star Frank Gore to a one year deal.
Gore is 34, and has run for over 14,000 yards with the 49ers and Colts. He’s clearly at the end of his career, but if his health holds up, he will likely be installed as the Fins starting back for next year.
Drake said Friday at a Dolphins charity golf event that he welcomes the new veteran, and what he will bring to the running back room, practice field, etc. Speaking to Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post, Drake elaborated on having Gore as a teammate and new mentor,
“He epitomizes longevity and I can only hope to have half the career that he’s had. That would be a success in my book. Just having him on this team, to help the team win more games, and to help myself become a better person, I felt like he was definitely going to help me do that.”
There’s no doubt Drake can learn from what Gore can bring every day.
There’s also no doubt that VP of football Mike Tannenbaum and GM Chris Grier will draft a young running back, and maybe soon in the upcoming first few rounds, to compete with Drake and with Gore.
So, Drake will need to embrace that challenge at yet another level, if he wants to get playing time and more carries in 2018.
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