ugg gloves Is Jay Ajayi’s right knee troublesome or are the Eagles resting their workhorse
been fine these games, been doing well. Ain missed no practices, Ajayi said. [Pederson] wanted to rest me [Wednesday], but I feel good. My knee has been fine throughout my career.
CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
When Ajayi was in Miami, however, the Dolphins increasingly gave him a day off each week to rest and receive treatment on his right knee. The 24 year old running back tore his anterior cruciate ligament in 2011 at Boise State, and reports that he had a chronic condition likely played a role in his plummet down draft boards three years ago.
But Ajayi, who was acquired for a fourth round pick on Oct. 31, dismissed the notion that he has lingering knee issues.
I got here, I didn need the rest day, Ajayi said. was practicing fine. This week, they told me they wanted to rest me.
If the knee isn the problem, then perhaps the Eagles are simply saving the running back for the playoffs and have plans to ride him more than they have since the trade.
Quarterback Nick Foles ineffectiveness in the last two games, and LeGarrette Blount decreased productivity over the last month suggest that Pederson and Co. might opt to use a workhorse rather than the by committee running back approach they have taken all season.
think that a possibility with what he shown us down the stretch here and giving him rest last week, and we see where he is this week health wise, Pederson said. think he one of the guys that we can rely on.
I don want to get away from the things that got us to this point, too. That the other thing you don want to just abandon ship on everybody else.
Ajayi has shown that he can handle the load. Last season with the Dolphins, he logged 17.3 carries per game, and he averaged 19.7 rushes in seven games this season before he was dealt to the Eagles.
not something I haven done before, Ajayi said.
In seven games with the Eagles, Ajayi averaged 10 carries and 5.8 yards per carry. In his first three games, he rushed 20 times for 194 yards (9.7 avg.). In the next four, he rushed 50 times for 214 yards (4.3 avg.).
Blount, meanwhile, has seemingly worn down. He averaged 4.8 yards (137 carries for 658 yards) on 12.5 rushes a game through the first 11 games. But in his next four games, he averaged only 2.6 yards (27 for 71) and seven carries a game.
Blount ran nine times for 37 yards in the finale,
but mostly, it appeared, to eclipse 750 yards and trigger a $300,000 incentive in his contract. Ajayi, on the other hand, will have nearly three weeks off before the Eagles playoff opener on Jan. 13.
they want to run me and use me in the game plan a lot, I be ready for it, Ajayi said. what I been preparing myself for. Basically just getting ready for war out there. Three game season. Leaving it all out on the line.
The Eagles, of course, don want Ajayi to empty his bucket. Unlike Blount, they have him under contract for one more year. Ajayi will be playing next season for his second deal. But with concerns about his longevity at a position at which players often wear down before they reach 30, it unclear whether the Eagles will be in that picture.
But first there is a postseason game that could be played in wintry weather. A year ago, Ajayi gained only 33 yards on 16 carries in the Dolphins first round loss at Pittsburgh. The game time temperature was 17 degrees. But Ajayi, having played in Idaho, knows what it like to play in difficult conditions.
can see defenses sometimes get worn down because of the weather, along with running the ball hard all game long, Ajayi said. definitely something we can use to our advantage.
Eagles end Derek Barnett (center) after scoring a touchdown against the Raiders.
The Eagles defensive end notched five sacks in his first season, and while that is below the average for his fellow 2017 first round colleagues, it is above the norm for edge rushers drafted among the first 32 picks.
Barnett declined to assess his first year. not over yet, he said Wednesday, as the Eagles prepared for next week playoff game. But defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz seemed pleased.
he been on the field, he found a way to make plays, Schwartz said.
In 15 games as a backup, Barnett made 25 tackles to go along with his sacks, plus a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He scored a touchdown off his last recovery, which put a stamp on the Eagles win over the Raiders two weeks ago.