MIAMI GARDENS — First, Jay Cutler stopped Kenyan Drake along the sideline, making sure his message was heard by standing so close to Drake, their facemasks nearly touched.
Then Damien Williams — the man he’s competing with for snaps — pulled him aside, no doubt reinforcing Cutler’s message with a few words of his own in the Dolphins’ 27-24 loss to Oakland on Sunday night.
That’s how it’s supposed to work on teams. A guy messes up, the others remind him the only proper response is to hurt the other team the next time more than you hurt your own team this time.
And Drake did hurt the Dolphins with a momentum-changing fumble in the second quarter — just as the spotlight was shining on him in the wake of the Jay Ajayi trade.
The veterans on the team knew it was mandatory to pick up Drake, a second-year running back.
“For sure,” Drake said. “We’re a team. We’re a family. It was definitely everybody, very receptive toward understanding that I was down at the moment, so they were definitely trying to help me uplift my spirits because we had another three quarters to go.”
On the NBC telecast, analyst Cris Collinsworth said, “Just the lack of experience is what really concerns you about these two running backs.”
Whatever was said worked because Drake finished with nine carries for 69 yards and a 7.7 rushing average — all team highs — plus he had six receptions in six targets for 35 yards.
In fact, Williams also was six for six in targets to receptions, which almost certainly will be an area the Dolphins lean on moving forward.
“We just wanted to create mismatches out on the perimeter with the versatility that we have between me and Damien and I think we were able to execute that,” Drake said. “We kept putting ourselves behind the eight ball with penalties, things of that sort. As long as we keep momentum going in drives, don’t hurt ourselves, I feel like we’ll have success.”
The highlight for Drake came in the third quarter when he showed his speed with a 42-yard run that nearly was a 65-yard touchdown. The Raiders caught him on their 23, but four plays later, Cutler hit Jarvis Landry with a 6-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 20-16.
“It was something that we game-planned,” Drake said of his long run. “I didn’t get touched so that was obviously a credit to the O-line. I was trying to make somebody miss, get to the sideline. I hated that I couldn’t break it for even more yards.”
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