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Dolphins' Ajayi welcomes increased workload

5/30/2017 9:03:00 PM
DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi, fresh off a 1,000-yard season and a Pro-Bowl appearance, seems excited about the prospect of an added workload, which has been suggested by head coach Adam Gase.

"I prepare myself every season to take a huge workload and be able to carry the team, and I think I'm ready for that," Ajayi said.

Ajayi is working on his receiving because the additional workload might not only include carries. He had 27 receptions for 151 yards last season. Running back Damien Williams (23 receptions, 249 yards) is regarded as the third-down back and running back Kenyan Drake (nine receptions, 36 yards), a rookie last season, also has good hands.

Additionally, Ajayi, who rushed for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016, said he's working on the finer points of his game.

"One of the focuses for the running back room - specifically myself - is being better without the ball this year," he said.

"That comes along with the fakes, running routes, knowing the details, catching the ball and so that's what we've been working on - I've been working on - this offseason and it's been really good."

Ajayi, the 2015 fifth-round pick from Boise State, ranked ninth in carries last season with 260. Only Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott had more than 300 carries (322) but three others were close to 300 carries - New England's LeGarrette Blount (299), Tennessee's DeMarco Murray (293) and Arizona's David Johnson (293).

It's unclear whether Gase wants Ajayi to approach that mark, but it's likely. Remember, Ajayi was left home for last season's opener at Seattle (reportedly because he reacted poorly to being second-team behind Arian Foster) and there were numerous games the Dolphins trailed and had to pass, ignoring the run game.

In between working on his game, Ajayi has enjoyed a measure of celebrity recently.

"I get stopped a few times in the airport, and that's always funny," he said. "Going out some times as well you catch some fans saying, 'Thank you for a great year.' And that's always good that you're affecting the fans and that they're appreciative of what you're doing."

Ajayi said the most inspiration he got during the offseason came from his peers.

"I think the most things that I heard that was at the Pro Bowl," he said. "Getting to be around a lot of other great players in the league and some past greats as well, they even were telling me that they watched the season, watched how I did. They were pleased with how I played. They were just excited about what I can do for the future."

Apparently, so is Gase.

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