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Rookie RB Jay Ajayi focused on helping Dolphins in practice

Rookie RB Jay Ajayi was able to return to practice for the first time since the preseason. Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports

DAVIE, Fla. -- It’s been a long road back for Miami Dolphins rookie running back Jay Ajayi. The fifth-round pick suffered a rib injury in the preseason and was put on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list with the designation to return.

Ajayi was eligible to practice for the first time on Wednesday but still has to wait two more games before he can play games with his teammates. Practicing this week was a good step in the right direction for Ajayi.

“It was great. Not being out there for six weeks now, it’s been a while,” Ajayi said. “I’ve been following the treatment plan the trainers had for me and I’ve been working out with the strength staff this whole time. So it’s finally great to get back on the field.”

Ajayi has two goals over the next couple of weeks: Help Miami’s first-team defense prepare in practice and make himself football ready by the time he’s able to come off the PUP list in Week 9 against the Buffalo Bills.

Defensive teammates joked with Ajayi that they were going to test him this week since he has fresh legs. The running back hasn’t played since the preseason and said he was 100 percent healthy.

“Oh yeah, definitely. Coming back on our full-padded practice on Wednesday, I knew it was going to be physical out there,” Ajayi said. “Everybody was flying around and we were outside. So the guys gave me a couple shots here and there. I was just trying to give them the best look that I could, being on the [scout] team since I can’t play. That was just my whole mentality.”

Ajayi put up monster numbers last year at Boise State, rushing for 1,823 yards and 28 touchdowns. He dropped to the fifth round because of medical concerns with his knees, but the Dolphins viewed him as a bargain late in the draft due to his production.

The team projects Ayaji as a big tailback who can add depth behind starter Lamar Miller. After a slow start, the Dolphins rushed for a season-high 180 rushing yards in a 38-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans last weekend.

“I just feel that it was great to see last week in the Titans game us finally able to get the run game going,” Ajayi said. “I really just hopefully want to be a part of that run game and just continue to help this team win games and pick up first downs, score touchdowns and do whatever I can to help this team win.”