Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase is through answering questions about Frank Gore’s age.
And if you’ve seen the team’s backfield run the ball so far in training camp without a roster to guide you, good luck telling the 35-year old apart from the rest.
Gore, one of the greatest football players to ever come out of South Florida, may have a pretty good homecoming in store for Dolphins fans this coming season if his knack for defying typical trends for ball carriers his age continues.
“He doesn’t look different than he did 10 years ago,” said Gase, who coached Gore as an offensive assistant with the 49ers in 2008. “He does a phenomenal job. He’s been preparing all spring. All I’ve heard from him since then is ‘Wait ‘til training camp.’ He is the last person I will ever doubt. Just seeing what he’s done throughout his career starting in college, he’s proven every person wrong we’ve ever known.”
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Entering his 14th NFL season, Gore has looked trim at 5-9 and roughly 212 pounds (right around where he says he was last year with the Colts) and fast when carrying the ball in 11-on-11 drills so far.
Gore is becoming a mentor to Kenyan Drake, the Dolphins’ speedy third-year, 24-year old that will likely share carries with him, and other rookies in camp such as 2018 fourth-round pick Kalen Ballage.
“Drake can do everything and he’s a great kid,” Gore said. “He’s really smart and real talented.”
Drake has sometimes been in awe so far in camp of what the veteran Gore can do.
“It’s real cool seeing him out here running around,” Drake said. “He always has that extra gear even at his age. It’s great seeing how he takes care of his body. Even at an age where a running back really doesn’t have a shelf-life, it’s good to see him do these things face to face.”
The Dolphins signed Gore in late March to a one-year contract that could allow him to finish a potential Hall of Fame career in his own backyard while watching his son, Frank, Jr., play high school football in the coming years.
“It feels really good and I’m happy to be home after 14 years,” Gore said. “This reminds me of when I was in college seeing the fans again.”
Gore is also chasing history.
He’ll enter this season with 14,026 career rushing yards and within 76 yards of surpassing Curtis Martin for fourth on the NFL’s all-time list.
Martin ran for 1,697 yards at age 31, but retired at 32 after gaining only 735 yards in 2005.
Tiki Barber ran for 1,860 yards when he was 30 years old in 2005 and 1,662 yards in 2006 and then retired.
While the Dolphins may not be expecting such gaudy numbers from Gore this year, he comes home still doing things that defy typical standards for running backs his age. Gore eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in 2016 with Indianapolis and came close last year running for 961 yards in a Colts’ offense that struggled to pass without Andrew Luck.
Gore’s 85-yard, two-touchdown performance in a Colts’ victory over the Dolphins in December 2015 was his only pro or college game at Hard Rock Stadium.
Gore still holds Miami-Dade County’s all-time record for rushing yards in a season (2,953) that he set in 2000 at Coral Gables High.
Gore rushed for 1,975 yards in three seasons at the University of Miami and was part of the Hurricanes’ 2001 national championship team. Gore was drafted by the 49ers where he played the first 10 seasons of his pro career and played in Super Bowl 47, which San Francisco lost to the Baltimore Ravens.
And Gore has accomplished all of this despite tearing both ACL’s during his college career.
New Dolphins center Daniel Kilgore, a teammate of Gore’s from 2011-2014, said he looks just as fast now as he did when he first blocked for him.
“Frank Gore runs on his own motor and always has for however many years he’s been playing,” Kilgore said. “He’s 35 and he looks like he’s 21. [That’s] pretty good for a guy that had two bum knees in college.”
Assuming Gore suits up in Week 1, he’s on track to be the NFL’s oldest running back and only one of two playing at age 35 or older. The other is the Eagles’ Darren Sproles, who already announced this will be his final season.
Gore has made no such declarations.
“We have a great bunch of young guys that work very hard and this is fun,” Gore said. “I’m really happy to be back where I spent my childhood and to get an opportunity to play here again.”