Frank Gore’s jersey is in the Hall of Fame.
So when will the man who wore that aqua and orange No. 21 as he rewrote the record books Sunday gets a bust there too?
It depends entirely on how much longer Gore wants to play.
And based on his comments Thursday — just days after he passed Curtis Martin and moved into fourth place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list (Gore now has 14,112) — it could be awhile.
“I’m still playing,” Gore insisted. “When that time goes, it’ll hit me then, but I’m still competing, trying to compete with these young guys right now.”
The most notable “young guy:” Kenyan Drake, who Drake referred to as “our starter” this week — even if both backs have been on the field to start each of the Dolphins’ first two games.
The stat sheet suggests Gore has the depth chart correct — at least so far. Drake has 32 touches from scrimmage for 136 total yards; Gore has 19 for 105.
That’s nearly a 2-to-1 advantage for Drake, in terms of usage. But Dolphins coach Adam Gase said the design is for a more even split, but the two two-hour weather delays in the opener changed those plans, at least for day.
“We were trying to be really careful, especially after that second one. I mean, it had been a long day,” Gase said. “We were a little concerned about some of our older guys to where we were like ‘Is this going to affect some of these guys?’ We were smart with how we put those guys in the game, that first game.
“And then this last game, there’s been a couple times too where we’ve called plays and they’re runs but the ball ends up going out to one of the wide receivers because of what the defense does,” Gase added. “It just keeps happening when Frank is in for some reason. We’re always going to try to keep those guys close. That’s the plan. We like when both those guys have the ball.”
Gore acknowledged that watching from the sideline is “different, it’s tough. I’m a guy who’s used to being in the game. But I respect my coaches. Kenyan Drake’s a talented guy, and whenever my number’s called, I try my best to make something happen. And that’s it.”
He did just that in Sunday’s win over the Jets, turning a dump-off pass into a first down on third-and-19 to seal the game.
And while he is on pace for the fewest carries since his rookie season, Gore has been efficient when he has had the ball. His 4.8 yards-per carry average is tied for fifth among players with at least 16 carries this season..
“I’ve never been with a running back that sets up blocks like he does,” said Dolphins tackle Ja’Wuan James. “Just, especially on double-teams, double-teams to the linebacker. He’ll slowly bring that linebacker to you and cut off of you. Some guys will just hit and outrun this guy. He’s bringing defenders to you with how he’s running and I’ve never seen that since I’ve been in the league. That’s how he’s gotten this far.”