But numbers aside, Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen believes Ajay definitely will be a better running back in his third NFL season.
“Now he’s got a ton of confidence,” Christensen said. “He knows how he’s going to have to train his body, right? He went through that — what it feels like to wake on Monday morning — and I think he’s in 50 percent better shape today then he was a year ago. I mean, I just think that there’s something about just understanding, and then also I think there’s something about tasting success. I always used to tease him about those 200-yard games and then all of a sudden everyone’s trying to tattoo you. They’re a blessing and a curse. But when you do taste that thing a little bit, and feel some success and taste some success, it kind of makes you even hungrier for more, and to play at that level.
“So I think you’ll see him make a big jump. I think he’ll be a better football player. Sometimes it doesn’t translate into numbers. This game is funny. It doesn’t always translate into numbers, but you still can be a better football player. And I think there’s no question in my mind that Jay Ajayi will be a better football player than he was last year.”
Along with more experience and the confidence that will come from Ajayi rushing for 1,272 yards in 2016, the expectation is that Ajayi can become more of a factor in the passing game.
The 2015 fifth-round pick from Boise State had 27 receptions for 151 yards last season, with a long of 15 yards. Christensen says he already has seen improvement in Ajayi’s receiving skills this spring.
“Jay is working hard to be a three-down back,” Christensen said. “His receiving skills are 200 percent better than a year ago today.”
Christensen, however, followed that comment by mentioning the other running backs on the Dolphins roster who can produce in the passing game, as well as the running game.
“I really think that room can be the deepest room of them all,” Christensen said. “I think that can be a really, really deep room and I think they can relieve each other at times.
“To be able to put in Damien and Kenyan and get big plays out of them and not have a big drop-off … and they can play all downs. They can run the ball inside. They can run the ball outside. They can be a nickel receiver or a sub-receiver for us. They can split out, which they did last year, and they can give you big plays. That’s huge. So I think that can really be one of our deepest position groups of them all.”