“Obviously, those guys get a lot of the publicity,” Eagles running back Jay Ajayi told the Daily News, referring to the Giants Saquon Barkley and thew Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott. “I’m ready to showcase again to the world who I am as a running back. At the end of the day, I do feel like the world’s forgotten about the kind of player that I [am] when I’m playing at the best of my ability and the kind of things I can do on the football thing. I’m excited to go back out there and do that. Especially given the role that I should be in this year and what they’re saying.”
By Peter Gleason
Jay Ajayi wasn’t exactly drawing a line in the sand with that quote.
But the rest of the NFC East may take it that way.
Rookie Barkley will be the New York Giants’ workhorse. Elliott has been hyped as a potential league-leading rusher in 2018. Even the Washington Redskins’ remade backfield with rookie Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson has earned high praise this offseason.
With the rest of the running backs in the division earning headlines, Eagles Super Bowl-winning running back Ajayi feels like the forgotten man in the NFC East.
Last season, Ajayi struggled in seven games with the Miami Dolphins (averaging 3.4 yards per carry). After a midseason trade to the Eagles, the 25-year-old split reps with LeGarrette Blount. In limited snaps, he earned 5.8 yards per carry on 70 totes and 10 receptions for 91 yards with Philly.
With Blount gone, Ajayi believes he can get back to being the workhorse he was in 2016 when he ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing with 1,272 yards.
“I’m not too far from what I was doing in that 2016 season,” Ajayi said. “If you look at what happened, I was top five in rushing in the league. I know that I’m capable of doing that. I know I’ve grown from that player in 2016.”
Ajayi has a clear path to earning the bulk of the early-down carries for the Eagles in 2018. After being slowly brought along last season, Ajayi’s touches increased down the stretch, including a Philly-high 18 totes against the Vikings in the NFC Championship game.
Behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, Ajayi believes he can prove his name deserves mentioning with the other star backs of the NFC East.
“For me,” Ajayi said, “it’s just about going out there and showcasing who the Jay Train is again.”