Jay Ajayi has a knack for first impressions, at least when it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Philadelphia running backs coach Duce Staley said he remembered interviewing Ajayi at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2015. At the time, the former Boise State running back impressed Staley with his playbook smarts.
“He knew everything,” Staley told PennLive.com. “So he was miles ahead, in my opinion, once he got into the league, and all you had to do was show him the blueprint.”
Ajayi, a fifth-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2015, impressed the Eagles again over the summer in joint practices with the Dolphins.
“When we came back after those practices, we said, ‘That’s our guy,’ ” Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman told ESPN.com. “He has the mentality we’re looking for. He brings the kind of presence and plays the way we want to represent our football team with and our fans with. That’s one of the benefits of having these scrimmages. When (the trade) came about, we had done our homework.”
Philadelphia acquired Ajayi from Miami last week for a fourth-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
And Ajayi made the trade look like a steal in his debut with the Eagles on Sunday. He rushed for a team-high 77 yards on eight carries against the Denver Broncos, including a 46-yard touchdown run that ended with a dive over the pylon in the second quarter.
“Special offensive line. Definitely believe we can do a lot of special things here,” Ajayi told NBCSports.com. “Great running back room and glad to be part of the dynamic that we have in there. I mean, look, that’s a great defense that we just ran on. We put 200 yards on that team over there. So I think you have to tip your hat to all of us that ran the ball today. I think we all did some special things out there.”
The Eagles went on to win 51-23, and Ajayi led a ground attack that combined for 197 yards against the NFL’s top-ranked defense. Eagles starter LeGarrette Blount added 37 yards and Corey Clement had 51.
Philadelphia enters a bye week with the best record in the NFL (8-1), and the break will give Ajayi more time to get to know the Eagles’ playbook.