DAVIE, Fla. -- One week after trading Pro Bowler Jay Ajayi, the Miami Dolphins' running game produced 86 rushing yards in Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders. That is not a lot on the surface, but it was the overall efficiency and hidden yards that made Miami coach Adam Gase optimistic.
Running backs Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams, who were backups all season, averaged 5.18 yards per carry against Oakland. Drake produced Miami’s longest rush of the season with a 42-yard scamper and averaged 7.7 yards per carry.
Both running backs also were big part of the Dolphins’ passing game. Drake and Williams each had six receptions and combined for 82 yards. They were targeted 12 times and caught all 12 passes.
“I like where our run game is heading,” Gase said. “We were able to do a couple things where we popped a big one. ... I think it makes a difference.”
Williams, who has more experience than Drake, got his first career start and rushed for 14 yards but was most effective as a pass-catcher, finishing with 47 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Williams’ 10-yard touchdown catch was one of the highlights for Miami’s offense. He broke through a couple of tackles and received a block from receiver Jarvis Landry from his knees to dive for the touchdown.
“It was just an effort play,” Williams said. “I’m just showing you who I am every day. I don’t quit. I don’t go out of bounds for nobody. It is an effort play. They gave up, I didn’t.”
Miami’s running game was less predictable Sunday than it was under Ajayi, who accounted for 86 percent of the team’s rushing yards in the first seven games. There also is room for growth in utilizing the versatility of Drake and Williams more in the second half of the season. Gase said he will continue to use and try to maximize both players offensively.