Coming off an explosive breakout 2016, Jay Ajayi is clearly the Dolphins top running back. An interesting question is who’s his backup, as we enter this season?
Granted, when you have someone run for over 1,200 yards including three separate 200 yard games, he’s the focus, but there will be times that he’s not in for a breather, change of pace, pass protection or catching purposes, etc.
So, as Miami’s OTAs continue to unfold, so too does that process. Kenyon Drake appears to be in prime position to be that guy. The former versatile Alabama runner, receiver and even kick returner got a chance to start game three early in 2016. Even though Drake only ended with 43 touches for the year, he’s in his second year and could become the “guy behind the guy” in Adam Gase’s offense.
An intriguing name to keep an eye on is undrafted Michigan back, De’Veon Smith (above). As the item in the Miami Herald discusses, Smith had good success the last two years at Michigan after Jim Harbaugh took over, but is a bit undersized and ran a very slow 40 time of 4.8 at his pro day. That obviously scared most everyone away.
It’s also intriguing that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross gave Smith some encouragement previously. Ross is not only an alum but a huge donor to the business program in Ann Arbor, as well. Ross desperately wanted to hire Harbaugh to coach the Dolphins years ago, but could not make that happen and his allegiance to Maize and Blue is well known. But, that’s no guarantee that Smith makes the roster.
A final name is former Oklahoma Sooner Damien Williams, who waited but re-signed his restricted free agency tender offer, recently. Like Drake, he was in Gase’s system last year, carried the ball 35 times and had three rushing TDs.
So, obviously the competition and options besides Ajayi will be something to keep an eye on as training camp gets underway.