Barry Jackson

Dolphins conscious of Ajayi’s workload; Several starters miss practice

Dolphins Jay Ajayi (23) runs the ball in the first quarter as the Miami Dolphins play the Baltimore Ravens in their second preseason game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens Aug. 17, 2017.
Dolphins Jay Ajayi (23) runs the ball in the first quarter as the Miami Dolphins play the Baltimore Ravens in their second preseason game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens Aug. 17, 2017. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

If Jay Ajayi, over 16 games, maintained the same workload he shouldered in the Dolphins’ opener, he would finish the season with an absurd 448 carries.

That’s 126 more than the league-leading 322 carries that Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott received last season. It’s also far more than the 260 carries Ajayi had last season.

Alas, that’s highly unlikely to happen.

Though Ajayi carried 28 times en route to 122 yards on Sunday against the Chargers, the Dolphins are conscious about not overworking him. He sat out Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury that isn’t considered serious.

“Our faith in him is obviously very high,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Wednesday. “Hopefully as the season goes on, we can kind of start moving some guys in and out. He’s a hard guy to take out of the game because every time he touches the ball, it seems like good things happen.

“But I am aware that that was a lot of carries. He played a lot of snaps but he was a hard guy to get out of the game because he wasn’t really willing to come out of the game. I feel like we have a good plan going forward. We’ll keep an eye on him. We’ll have some days where we rest him and just make sure that he’s getting back to full strength for the next week.”

Ajayi played 64 of Miami’s 68 offensive snaps last week. Damien Williams had only three offensive snaps and Kenyan Drake one.

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

STARTERS MISS PRACTICE

• Besides Ajayi, receiver Jarvis Landry (knee) and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (ankle) also missed practice.

Gase said one reason rookie defensive tackle Davon Godchaux played more than Phillips on Sunday is that Phillips was playing through that ankle injury.

“When Jordan went in [Sunday], he played well,” Gase said. “He did a good job. He did his job. It was good to see how he tried to fight through that.”

• Receiver DeVante Parker (ankle), center Mike Pouncey (hip) and Williams (rib) were limited in Wednesday’s practice.

Gase said Pouncey, playing his first full game since Nov. 13, “played really well” Sunday. “It’s really amazing, the fact that he doesn’t practice very much and he goes out there and grades out the way that he does.

“He has an unbelievable feel for the game. The way he gets guys covered up on the second level, it doesn’t matter where their

locations is, he seems to get it done.”

Gase said Pouncey’s mindset is playing “nothing less than 16-plus (games). I think he’s looking for people to doubt him.”

• Gase said the offensive system he’s using this season “really kind of fits [Jay Cutler] better” than the one Gase used as Cutler’s offensive coordinator for Chicago in 2015 “because I was coming from an offense that was predominantly drop back. We didn’t have the play-actions that we do now because we weren’t running outside zone” – something installed by offensive line coach Chris Foerster.

“The biggest thing for me,” Gase said, “is just kind of knowing when to shut up when I’m talking to him.”

Cutler said he’s “really comfortable” partly because the Dolphins skill position players “are going to make a lot of systems look good.”

• Though left tackle Laremy Tunsil gave up a sack on Sunday, “that sack was on me,” Gase said. “That was supposed to be a quick-game type play and nobody was open. He was setting for the ball to come out quick. They’re not going to put my name on the stat sheet and say that I gave it up; but that was my fault. He did a good job the whole game.”

Quarterback Jay Cutler (6) speaks to the media after Miami Dolphins football practice on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.

Here’s my post with 10 things to know about new Dolphins linebacker Stephone Anthony, including some cutting candor from New Orleans people.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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