For most of the offseason, it appeared former Boise State running back Jay Ajayi had the inside track on the No. 1 spot with the Miami Dolphins. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s fantasy football preview as “a name you should know.” On July 18, Miami signed former Texans running back Arian Foster to a one-year deal, immediately creating some big competition.
As a rookie last season, Ajayi ran for 187 yards and a touchdown, adding seven catches for 90 yards. In his first preseason game of the season Friday, Ajayi got the start with Foster sidelined as a precautionary measure. Ajayi ran for 6 yards on two carries. He is currently listed as the starting running back on the team’s depth chart.
“I’m not too worried about it,” Ajayi said of the competition. “Right now I’m just focusing on myself, focusing on my day-to-day process, which is coming out here and competing and being the best player I can be.”
Regardless, he should have a bigger role this season. In the offseason, coach Adam Gase was very open about his excitemet for the former Boise State.
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“He’s been one of those guys who’s been here every day. He’s done everything right,” Gase said. “You can tell he’s looking to improve. He doesn’t say much, just keeps working. The rest of that group has done a good job to try and keep up with him, but obviously he’s kind of separated himself from that group as far as the consistency of what he does day in and day out.”
Next preseason game: at Dallas, 6 p.m. Friday
TYLER GRAY, LB, DOLPHINS
One of the more underrated playmakers on the Broncos’ defense in recent seasons, Gray got his NFL shot as an undrafted free agent with Miami. Gray has tough odds, but he is listed as a third-teamer at one of the Dolphins’ three linebacker spots. The team kept seven linebackers coming out of training camp last year.
Last season with the Broncos in 12 games (seven starts), Gray had 53 tackles (eight for loss), three sacks and two fumble recoveries. Pro Football Focus ranked him the No. 160 prospect in the draft, ahead of some players that wound up drafted in the second or third round, like former Bronco offensive lineman Rees Odhiambo.
Click here for a photo of Gray in practice.
RYAN CLADY, OT, JETS
When Clady has played, he’s been outstanding. A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All Pro, Clady has played a total of 18 games the last three seasons, missing the last 14 games of 2014 with a foot injury and all of 2016 with a knee injury. In April, Clady was dealt from the Broncos to the Jets. He said he would have preferred to stay, but after the Jets’ D’Brickashaw Ferguson retired and Denver couldn’t restructure his deal, New York became a logical landing spot.
ESPN recently wrote a story on Clady with the headline: “Jets replaced a Brick by trading for a gem ... and the payoff will be big.”
“I’m feeling really good right now,” Clady said. “(The Pro Bowl) is definitely always the goal. My main goal is to stay healthy and win a lot of games.”
Next preseason game: at Washington, 5:30 p.m. Friday
This week with preseason games beginning, we’re checking in with former Boise State players in NFL camps, by division. On Monday, we took a look at the NFC North. On Tuesday, it was the NFC West, and the lone Bronco in the division, Rees Odhiambo. On Wednesday, the NFC East, chock full of former Boise State stars. Thursday, the NFC South. Friday, the AFC North. Saturday, it was the AFC West.
Here’s the current list of former Broncos on rosters, as of today:
Kamalei Correa, LB, Baltimore
Charles Leno, OL, Chicago
George Iloka, S, Cincinnati
Jamar Taylor, CB, Cleveland
Tyrone Crawford, DL, Dallas
DeMarcus Lawrence, DL, Dallas
Kellen Moore, QB, Dallas
Orlando Scandrick, CB, Dallas
Matt Paradis, C, Denver
Billy Winn, DL, Denver
Jeron Johnson, S, Kansas City
Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami
Tyler Gray, LB, Miami
Blake Renaud, FB, Minnesota
Shea McClellin, LB, New England
Marcus Henry, C, New Orleans
Kyle Wilson, CB, New Orleans
Ryan Clady, OT, New York Jets
Donte Deayon, CB, New York Giants
Darian Thompson, S, New York Giants
Rees Odhiambo, OL, Seattle
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay
Kelsey Young, RB, Washington
Note: Lee Hightower, who played at Boise State in 2011 and 2012 before transferring to Houston for his final three seasons, is on the Indianapolis Colts’ roster.