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Position Review: Running Backs

Posted Jan 8, 2018

Season-ending starter:Kenyan Drake

Season-ending backups: Damien Williams, Senorise Perry, De’Veon Smith

Ended season on injured reserve: None

2017 transactions (after final roster cuts): Signed De’Veon Smith to the practice squad (9/3) … Traded Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia for a 2018 draft pick (10/31) … Signed De’Veon Smith to the active roster from the practice squad (11/18) … Waived De’Veon Smith (11/20) … Signed De’Veon Smith to the practice squad (11/22) … Signed De’Veon Smith to the active roster from the practice squad (11/29) … Signed Brandon Radcliff to the practice squad (11/29)

2018 free agents: Damien Williams (UFA)

2017 recap: There probably wasn’t a position on the Dolphins roster that featured more twists and turns this past season than running back. It began with Jay Ajayi looking to duplicate his Pro Bowl performance of 2016 and ended with Kenyan Drake emerging as an every-down back with Ajayi playing for another team in a difference conference. Ajayi began the season with an impressive 122-yard performance in the Week 2 season-opening victory against the Chargers, but his production dipped dramatically in the next six games — except for another 100-yard outing against the defending NFC champion Falcons. Ajayi eventually was sent to the Eagles on Oct. 31 in a stunning move at the NFL trading deadline. Head Coach Adam Gase turned the running back duties over to Drake and Damien Williams, who looked like a solid one-two combination until Williams sustained a shoulder injury that would sideline him for the final five games. Given additional responsibilities, Drake responded to the challenge with back-to-back 100-yard games against Denver and New England. Drake’s total of 444 rushing yards over the final five games projects to 1,420 yards over a 16-game season. Senorise Perry appeared in every game, but was limited mostly to special teams. He did have eight rushing attempts, five in the Dec. 3 victory against Denver and three in the finale against Buffalo. Rookie free agent De’Veon Smith appeared in the final five games after bouncing on and off the practice squad and had three catches in the finale.

Stat that stands out: Drake’s 444 rushing yards over the final five weeks of the regular season led all NFL running backs during that span

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