Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi was left in Miami and will not play in Sunday’s season opener against the Seattle Seahawks. The decision was made by first-year coach Adam Gase, who will make his NFL coaching debut here Sunday.
A Dolphins player said earlier this week that Ajayi, who lost the No. 1 running back job to Arian Foster, was upset over being demoted.
“If you let it get the best of you, it shows,” the player said. “Let’s see what you’re made of.”
The Dolphins officially ruled Ajayi out on the team’s final injury report of the week. The reason? “Non-injury related.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Isaiah Pead, meanwhile, practiced fully for the first time since injuring his hamstring two weeks ago. He has been told to be ready to play Sunday, if the team needs him. Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake are the other running backs on roster.
“Anytime you go through that transition where everything was going right and at the last second, we decided to go with Arian as the starter ... I didn't technically see it as starter-backup,” Gase said. “The way I see it was it was going to be more 1A, 1B.”
Working against Ajayi: He doesn’t play special teams, and the Dolphins need their running backs to do so.
Meanwhile, Gase also ruled center Mike Pouncey out for the game. He has not practiced since sustaining a hip injury three weeks ago.
The Dolphins listed six players as questionable for Sunday: linebacker Jelani Jenkins (knee); defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (calf); wide receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring); Pead (hamstring), and guard Laremy Tunsil (knee).
That questionable designation does not mean what it once did, however. It no longer signifies a 50-50 chance of playing. Instead it now means “it is uncertain as to whether the player will play in the game.”
Parker practiced on a limited basis for the first time since injuring his hamstring late in the preseason, but he remains a long shot to play Sunday.
“There’s a chance,” Gase said. “We still have time. ... My biggest thought that goes through my head is I want to make sure this is for the duration. I do not want to have a setback.”
No joint demonstration
Although the Seahawks are planning a team-wide “demonstration of unity” during the playing of the national anthem Sunday, they had not asked their opponents to participate as of Friday afternoon.
And the Dolphins, at least as of the end of practice Friday, had nothing organized on their own, according to tight end Dion Sims.
“I think everybody’s just doing their own thing,” Sims said.
Said safety Reshad Jones: “I don’t think it’s decided yet. I think every man has their own standard, their own opinion on the topic that’s at hand.”
The topic: San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to not stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in protest to what many see as the unfair treatment of African Americans by police officers.
Foster, who told the Miami Herald last week that “I understand 100 percent what [Kapernick] is doing,” held a brief, players-only meeting on the subject after practice.
“The one thing that they asked the coaches to [do is] give them their privacy,” Gase said. “I know I made a comment earlier as far as when you guys asked me about it with Colin, and I just know everybody has the right to their opinion, and I know we’re here to beat Seattle. I know whatever decision they come to, really, anybody will [not] know what’s going to happen until we get to game time.”
▪ The Dolphins held an hour-long practice at the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium on Friday.