British running back Jay Ajayi is confident of making serious strides in his second NFL season with the Miami Dolphins. And some of Miami’s team leaders agree that he could be a force to be reckoned with during the 2016 campaign.
Ajayi opened his rookie year on injured reserve with a rib injury but played in the final nine games, rushing for 187 yards and one touchdown on 49 carries. The London-born rusher also scored on a two-point conversion and did enough to turn the heads of his team-mates with his aggressive, take-no-prisoners running style.
Pro Bowl offensive lineman Mike Pouncey said:
“Jay’s doing a great job. He showed flashes last season of what kind of player he’s going to be and we look forward to him going into the spring.”
Ajayi was born in Hackney and lived in Manor House before moving out to Essex. His family then jetted out to the United States when he was seven years old. But he remains a proud Brit who has spoken to me several times about how he feels he can do something historic in raising the profile of the sport in the UK through his play on the field in America.
Ajayi is currently the number one back in Miami following the free agency defection of Lamar Miller to the Houston Texans.
“It’s going to be tough replacing Miller. Lamar is a great football player and we wish him nothing but the best… but we’ve got Jay Ajayi, a guy we really believe in.”
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill added:
“As soon as we lost Lamar and then C.J. Anderson got retained by Denver, I asked Jay, ‘Hey, are you ready? You’ve got to step up.’ And he looked me square in the eye and said: ‘Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s go.’”
With Damien Williams as the only other runner of note on the roster, I expect Miami to add another running back in the 2016 NFL Draft. But I also expect Ajayi to play a much increased role this coming season.