DAVIE—Adam Gase spent his first offseason as Dolphins head coach pondering, among other things, ways he might use running back Damien Williams as a multipurpose weapon. He had asked Ryan Tannehill whether there was anyone on offense who might not necessarily show up on game tape, but was worth consideration for an expanded role, and Tannehill’s answer was Williams.
Gase didn’t have to ask around in the recent offseason, obviously. He has his own thoughts on that subject now, and most of those have centered on the running backs.
As he analyzed the returning personnel, he saw greater potential for Williams and Kenyan Drake, an opening for Jay Ajayi to be a bigger factor in the passing game and some creative uses of Jakeem Grant.
“Kenyan had a lot on his plate, and we tried to expand his role a little bit,” Gase said. “It probably was too much for him sometimes. Now that he’s more comfortable, (we’re) seeing how far we can take him. We have a really good feel for Damien with what he likes and what he can do. Jay’s been very vocal about how he wants to be more effective in the passing game and he’s done a great job with that.
“Jakeem is probably the one guy that we made a move and moved him outside and allowed him to find ways to get him the ball and let him run. In the slot sometimes, it’s so predicated off of coverage, you can get eliminated from the progression just by the coverage on certain plays. By putting Jakeem outside, he’s caught a lot more balls (in training camp) and he’s been more involved with the offense and that’s been good to see.”
Drake and Grant are the most intriguing names in that bunch since Williams already has a diversified role and Ajayi is more of a known commodity (that said, he was targeted just 35 times all last season, so that’s worth watching this year).
Grant and Drake both bring exceptional speed, which is why they work in the return game as well. Grant is the primary returner, but Drake got work on kick returns last year and has been taking punt return reps.
Drake had 33 rushes for 179 yards and two scores last year, plus nine catches for 46 yards. Grant had one rush and worked almost exclusively on special teams.
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