Eagles RBs coach: Ajayi is 'the guy' in backfield

Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi (26) runs with the ball during organized team activities at NovaCare ComplexPhoto: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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Jay Ajayi is expected to be featured in a more prominent role in the Philadelphia Eagles' backfield, per running backs coach Duce Staley.

Ajayi found himself splitting carries in 2017 after the Eagles acquired him in an in-season trade with the Miami Dolphins. The 24-year-old rushed for 408 yards on 70 carries in seven regular-season games with the Eagles before adding 184 more in three postseason tilts.

"I'm pretty sure that Jay is excited about being able to go out there and dominate and being able to be that guy," Staley said, via the team website. "I know Doug (Pederson, head coach) is excited about it also. We'll see."

While LeGarrette Blount has since moved on to the Detroit Lions, Corey Clement is now joined by Darren Sproles after the veteran speedster's return from a torn ACL. Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey are also in the mix while former Washington Redskins running back Matt Jones was added to the team as well.

"Just (Ajayi) being focused, coming in, knowing he's the guy, knowing he's the guy that's going to step up there and just put everything on his back and ride with him," Staley said.

Ajayi showcased the workhorse mentality during the 2016 season in Miami. He rushed for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns as the Dolphins punched a ticket to the postseason for the first time since 2008.

The 6-foot, 223-pound Ajayi didn't get out of the blocks as fast in 2017, leading to a midseason trade with the Eagles for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Miami Herald reported that Ajayi was jettisoned because of "team culture, locker room chemistry and player buy-in."

Ajayi had rushed for 465 yards on 138 carries, but had been held out of the end zone with Miami.