Jay Ajayi: 'I want to be the best'

DAVIE, Fla. -- There is something different about Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi this summer. The third-year player has a certain swagger and confidence this offseason that wasn't there a year ago.

Ajayi has big goals in 2017 coming off a career-high 1,272 rushing yards and his first Pro Bowl. Ajayi is out to prove he is not a one-year wonder and is aiming to put his name among the elite players at his position.

"Right now, having a couple years under my belt, knowing what I want to be, I want to be the best," Ajayi said following Day 1 of Miami's mandatory minicamp. "I strive for that. I know that to be considered the best at the running back position, you have to be a guy that can do it all."

Ajayi was happy with his production on the ground last season, but he wasn't much of a threat in the passing game. Ajayi recorded 27 receptions for 151 yards and averaged just 5.6 yards per catch. In comparison, he averaged 4.9 yards per rush.

That is why catching the ball out of the backfield became a major focus during Ajayi's offseason training. He doesn't want to come off the field on third down and he looks much smoother running routes and finishing receptions.

Ajayi also has been more detailed mentally in the offense, according to Dolphins head coach Adam Gase.

"It's slowed down for him a lot from where we were last year at this time compared to where we are right now," Gase said. "The questions that he brings up to us are very detailed. They're really beyond next-level questions. They're almost kind of quarterback-ish questions for a running back."

Ajayi's journey from relative unknown to Pro Bowler got off to a rocky start. He didn't make the trip to Seattle for the regular-season opener due to disciplinary reasons and wasn't a full-time starter until Week 5.

The end-of-the-season experience at the Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida, last January was important, according to the tailback. Ajayi said the biggest thrill was to speak to future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, who told Ajayi he followed his progress and ability to overcome adversity throughout the season.

Ajayi, 23, aims to put together another Pro Bowl-caliber season in 2017.

"It definitely made me want to continue to work harder and push myself," Ajayi said. "Because I want to be on that level every year, being able to be recognized as [that] type of player."