PHILADELPHIA–Here’s an idea that might work out well for the Miami Dolphins: Jay Ajayi believes the next step of his development is to become a top-level pass catcher out of the backfield, and his new quarterback has a propensity to use them.
One of the things that has Ajayi excited about the arrival of Jay Cutler is how much he threw to running backs in Chicago. Over the seven seasons in which he was mostly healthy for the Bears, Cutler made great use of running back Matt Forte.
Forte, now with the Jets, led Chicago in receptions in three of those aforementioned Cutler seasons and finished second or third the other years. He caught a career-high 74 passes in 2013, when Cutler played 11 games, and topped it the next season with 102. That’s the all-time NFL record for catches by a running back, and it enabled Cutler to post a personal-best in passer rating at 66 percent.
Ajayi, meanwhile, has yet to tap into that facet of his potential. He was targeted on just 35 of Miami’s 477 pass attempts last year and put up 151 yards on 27 catches. That’s one big way in which the offense can improve this year.
“I pride myself on being able to do everything and be on the field for the whole game,” he said this summer. “I believe I have that skillset (as a receiver). It’s really about developing it even more now at this level and trying to push myself to become elite.”
The Dolphins’ record for catches by a running back belongs to Terry Kirby, who had 75 in 1993.
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