Jay Ajayi is undergoing a rough preseason ahead of his third year in the NFL.
The Miami Dolphins running back sustained a concussion during full contact drills on August 1st. A day later, the team confirmed the injury while also placing him in concussion protocol. Ajayi has been held out of training camp practices since then and saw no reps in the Fins 23-20 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Thursday’s preseason opener.
That changed on Sunday when Miami cleared Ajayi to return to practice. But even though he can once again participate in contact during practices, independent neurologists still haven’t given him the OK to take part in a game setting. Unless cleared from concussion protocol, Ajayi won’t play in this coming Thursday’s meeting with the Baltimore Ravens.
Let me be clear … JAY AJAYI is in the concussion protocol. Dolphins clarified.
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) August 13, 2017
Despite Returning to Practice, Jay Ajayi Remains in Concussion Protocol
The incident put head coach Adam Gase‘s decision to go full-contact during training camp under the spotlight. But he explained that his rationale to do so comes from the idea that it helps players to adequately prepare for the real thing come September.
Ajayi’s initial diagnosis came a day before quarterback Ryan Tannehill re-aggravated a partially torn ACL and MCL suffered in Week 14 of last year. It prompted Gase to coax Jay Cutler out of retirement and sign with the team. Tannehill will miss the entire 2017 season as he undergoes reconstructive surgery.
After a largely quiet rookie campaign, Ajayi broke out in 2016. He finished as the NFL’s fourth-leading rusher with 1,272 yards on the ground while adding eight rushing touchdowns. He also had three games of 200+ rush yards, becoming just the fourth player in league history to achieve that feat (O.J. Simpson, 1973; Earl Campbell, 1980; Tiki Barber, 2005).
For now, Ajayi’s absence will give the other running backs on the preseason roster a chance to solidify spots on the final 53-man squad. Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams finished second and third in rushing yards respectively and combined for five touchdowns last year. Williams is currently listed as second on the depth chart, per the team website.