Miami Dolphins’ Jay Ajayi: Mike Pouncey changes everything for offense

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi scores on a 2-yard first-quarter touchdown run against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday. (David Maialetti/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

PHILADELPHIA — The first time he touched the ball, Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi burst through the middle of the line of scrimmage for 26 yards.

Something was different.

Center Mike Pouncey was making his preseason debut, and as usual, Ajayi was able to follow Pouncey through for the big gain.

When Ajayi was running for 200 yards in a game last season, Pouncey was there. And Pouncey was there again on Thursday night against the Eagles.

“It’s always different with big Mike in there,” Ajayi said. “He changes that whole dynamic. He’s a vocal leader up there with those guys. And then just his physicality as well. And his aggressiveness. I think all of them feed off of him and myself as well. I always love having him in there.”

Ajayi ran for 53 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

Ajayi broke tackles. Ajayi looks ready for the regular season to begin.

“Yeah, I feel pretty good,” Ajayi said. “I’m confident. I know what it takes and what I need to do.”

A year ago at this time, Ajayi didn’t know what he was capable of. And coach Adam Gase certainly didn’t, either.

As a Pro Bowler, it seems obvious Ajayi now will sit out the final preseason game at Minnesota.

Last season, Ajayi played in the final preseason game. He fumbled. And he wasn’t even going to dress in the season opener at Seattle.

After Ajayi checked out of this game, he was seen laughing loudly and slapping hands with a broad-smiling Gase.

“Me and coach Gase have a great relationship,”  Ajayi said. We’re able to conversate with each other. We were probably just talking about game plan or something like that. But our relationship has grown since last year and I think we’re in a good place right now.”

Ajayi believes Miami’s offense can be extremely productive.

“I think we have a stacked tool box of skill players,” Ajayi said.  “Receivers. Tight ends. I think it’s just about all of us across the board coming together and continuing to get comfortable with Jay (Cutler) back there and just continuing to build. Working on the little things. We just need to fine tune those things and get ready for that.”

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