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Miami has a new home run hitter and his name is Kenyan Drake

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Al Diaz/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake is a home run hitter. Maybe not to the degree that for-now Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is, but he’s a home run hitter nonetheless.

We’ve learned that in the weeks since the Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi to the Eagles and turned the running back duties into a time share between Drake and Damien Williams.

When Drake broke off the 42-yard house call that allowed the Dolphins to start sealing up their 35-9 victory over the Broncos on Sunday it marked the third time in five games the second-year back has gone deep.

That’s the sign of a legitimate power hitter. So is this: Of the 120 yards Drake gained on Sunday, 106 of them came after contact as he chalked up seven missed tackles on the day, according to Pro Football Focus.

 “You think he’s one of those guys that has to have a wide-open edge and use his speed, but that’s not the case because he’s tough,’’ Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. “He’s tough between the tackles.

 “He’s a good-sized guy for a running back and he’ll deliver the blow as much as any running back that I’ve been around. And when he gets to the open field and it’s one-on-one, he’s a tough guy to bring down.’’

Indeed he is. Drake’s first big gainer was the 42-yarder he had against the Raiders in the second game following Ajayi’s departure. He then ran 66 yards for a touchdown a week later against Carolina.

Both of those runs came while Drake worked in a platoon with Williams. There was no platoon on Sunday, not with Williams out nursing a sore shoulder. The day belonged to Drake. And hit was a busy one.

Drake ran the ball 23 times and caught three passes for 21 yards, making it by far the busiest day he’s had as a running back since his days at Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs, Ga.

The question that has to be asked now is how does Drake respond to the heavy workload. It’s literally been years since he’s had a work day like that, so he now has to prove he can bounce back and keep on going.

That’s what feature backs do. They string together several games in a row like the one Drake had on Sunday and force opponents to game plan against them. The Dolphins still aren’t sure Drake can do that, but Drake is.

“I put my body through (a lot) during the offseason, the (regular) season and practice,’’ Drake said. “I try to finish every play 30, 40 yards down the field, so I can keep my wind. I feel like I’m built for this.’’

We’ll see. There’s little doubt that watching to see if Drake does indeed have feature back ability is one of the things that will make watching the last four games of the Dolphins season worthwhile.

Besides, you never know when he might hit a home run.

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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