Armando Salguero

The Miami Dolphins’ plan at running back heading into final preseason game and roster cuts

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi scores on a 2-yard first-quarter touchdown run against the Philadelphia Eagles on last Thursday.
Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi scores on a 2-yard first-quarter touchdown run against the Philadelphia Eagles on last Thursday. TNS

*First of a series

Adam Gase has a wonderful poker face, which to a veteran (and award winning) reporter such as myself means he has a terrible poker face.

The Miami Dolphins’ head coach is easy to read. He has trouble lying. He has trouble hiding the truth. Even when he doesn’t want to tell you stuff in a press conference he kind of tells you stuff.

And that’s the case with the Dolphins as they lay out their plans for piecing together a 53-man roster. Gase is not going to simply lay out the plans for you and me. But even as he’s keeping the double-secret probation stuff under wraps he lets clues slip -- basically telling you what cards he’s holding.

And that’s what happened Monday when the coach was discussing the team’s running back corps. He was asked if it is possible the team will keep a fourth running back behind Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams.

Gase responded: “Yes, we’ll see how this all plays out. We absolutely are considering all options right now, whether it’s someone that’s already here or somebody that becomes available.”

Ah-ha! There you go. The Dolphins are keeping four running backs, folks.

Why, you ask?

“I feel like we did get a little lucky last year by having three guys for the entire year that pretty much stayed healthy,” Gase continued. “We’re going to keep looking at that, we’re going to see how our roster shakes out, see what the health of everybody is after this game, and then we’ll make some decisions after that.”

Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins running back, talks about his experience in 'concussion protocol'.

Thanks, coach!

So if the Dolphins don’t suffer some unforeseen injury at another position that will require them to add a body at that spot or if they don’t have one of their current runners slated to make the team go down, this team is going to keep four running backs to start the season.

That running back will either be someone currently on the roster ...

Or the running back will be someone currently on another team’s roster -- someone who gets cut but is better than Miami’s fourth guy.

I suggested back in May the Dolphins needed a load-carrying backup to Ajayi in case things got sideways.

I told everyone here in June that Ajayi is the offensive player hardest to replace -- harder than even Ryan Tannehill, I said then.

It seems the Dolphins are aware they were “a little lucky” last year that Ajayi and practically everyone else got through the season without incident. So they’re going to be cautious. And wise.

Now, I have no idea who might be available to the Dolphins if they’re going to look outside to waiver wires or trades. I don’t know everyone who is expendable on other teams. I don’t know their plans.

Miami Dolphins running back Damien Williams will get more playing time after Kenyan Drake was knocked out of practice on Aug. 13, 2017.

I do have a pretty good idea about the Dolphins, however. And if the team decides it’s going to stick with four running backs currently on the roster, the fourth guy is Senorise Perry. He’s not as big as Storm Johnson but he’s pulled ahead of Johnson in the running back competition.

The fact Perry has averaged 4.0 yards per carry while Johnson has averaged 2.2 yards per carry is evidence which direction the team is going if it doesn’t add someone from the outside.

So barring an injury, the Dolphins are keeping four running backs. And unless the team finds someone suitable on waivers or via trade the four guys are Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake, Damien Williams and Senorise Perry.

Keep refreshing as I will post a new position before the end of practice Tuesday.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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