Will Eagles Ride Ajayi? He's Ready to ‘Punish People'

The Eagles brought in Jay Ajayi for this moment. 

The weather is cold, the playoffs have arrived and the former Pro Bowl running back is fresh and ready for battle. 

"I know it's going to be exciting to be out there," Ajayi said on Thursday. "If they want to run me and use me in the game plan a lot, I'll be ready for it. That's what I've been preparing myself for. 

"Basically we're getting ready for war out there. Three-game season, leave it all out on the line. That's my main focus."

Ajayi didn't play in the regular-season finale and was given a rest day on Wednesday because of chronic knee soreness that has followed him since college. But on Thursday, he was back at practice and said he felt fine. The trainers told him to take a day off, so he took a day off. 

But that day off does seem to indicate what might be coming. Earlier this week, head coach Doug Pederson said there's a possibility the team could use Ajayi as a workhorse back in the playoffs. 

"I think he's one of the guys we can rely on," Pederson said. 

In seven games with the Eagles, Ajayi has averaged just 10 carries per game, but in Miami over the last two years, he averaged over 16 carries per game and often went over the 20-carry mark. 

The highest number of carries Ajayi has had with the Eagles came in Los Angeles, when he carried the ball 15 times against the Rams. 

But if the Eagles want more out of him in the playoffs, he's ready to deliver. 

"It's not something I haven't done before so I'm excited to embrace that role if that's what ends up happening this postseason," he said. "Just being ready for it. It's something I've done before. Just getting my mind right for war. Getting ready for these next couple games and just be physical and punish people." 

Thanks to the Eagles' running back rotation and his lessened workload, Ajayi said he feels really good heading into these playoffs. He's had 55 fewer touches this year than last. 

After averaging just 3.4 yards per carry in seven games with the Dolphins, Ajayi has averaged 5.8 yards per attempt since the trade to the Eagles. Slowly, he has taken over lead running back responsibilities from LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement. Heading into the playoffs, it appears Ajayi is the guy. 

Ajayi got to the playoffs last year, but the Dolphins were bounced in the wild-card round, 30-12, by the Steelers. In that game, Ajayi carried the ball 16 times for 33 yards and had three catches for 12 yards. 

He said that game "definitely" left a bad taste in his mouth. 

"Obviously the gravity of knowing there's really no other game after that if you lose," Ajayi said about the difference in the playoffs. "Basically one-game seasons, the atmosphere, the energy is extremely high. I was in Pittsburgh for our playoff game last year, and there was a crazy atmosphere there. Knowing that all our playoff games are at home is going to be special because our stadium and atmosphere is very special and I know we'll be able to use that to our advantage."

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