Eagles RB Jay Ajayi Helped by First-Round Bye
Everybody’s playing through some sort of injury this time of season, but the week off sure helped.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi played against the Oakland Raiders on Christmas night with his balky knee that has hampered him dating back to his time at Boise State that requires rest.
Having the bye allowed him to rest his knee, and gear up for the playoffs.
The 24-year-old touched the ball 228 times this season for 1,031 yards and two touchdowns in his time with Philadelphia and Miami. While his stats were down – in part because of a decrease in touches – his 287 touches in 2016 season totaled 1,423 yards and eight scores.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson acknowledged the reason Ajayi did not practice last week was to rest his knee
“As you know with his history he's had the knee," Pederson described on Monday. "Just rest on that knee is all.”
He did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.
When the Eagles acquired Ajayi, many felt that he would take over the role as the Eagles lead back, but that really hasn't happened, averaging just 10 carries per game in his seven games. But Pederson hinted that the team could lean on Ajayi, who has averaged 5.8 yards per carry with the Eagles, a little bit more during the playoffs.
"I think that's a possibility with what he's shown us down the stretch here and giving him rest last week, and we'll see where he is this week health-wise," Pederson said. "I think he's one of the guys that we can rely on."
"Again, I don't want to get away from the things that got us to this point, too. That's the other thing is you don't want to just abandon ship on everybody else."
"I do think there could be a little more role for him down the stretch."
Even since the team added Ajayi to the backfield, they have mixed touches between LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement and Ajayi, who essentially has taken over for Wendell Smallwood, and that's what has gotten them to this point.
"LeGarrette has embraced his role. I’ll tell you what, he's been a pleasant surprise, particularly with the younger guys. He understands his role. He's going to be a big part of the success, and has been a big part of the successes this year already."
"He has been to the pinnacle. He's been there and understands it, what it takes. Those are the things I'm going to lean on him with with our team and with the guys that haven't been there. How to practice, how to prepare. So he's really done a nice job this his role."
Ajayi isn’t the only player who will benefit from the week off. Defensive end Brandon Graham missed Week 17 with a ankle injury and did not practice last week.