Dolphins RB Isaiah Pead making strong push for roster spot

DAVIE, Fla. -- Who is the Miami Dolphins' leading rusher halfway through the preseason? The answer may surprise you.

It is not Jay Ajayi, for whom some expect a breakout season in Year 2. It is also not former Pro Bowler Arian Foster, who made his debut Friday against the Dallas Cowboys.

Instead, backup running back Isaiah Pead is leading Miami in rushing by a significant margin. He has 98 rushing yards on 14 carries through two preseason games and is averaging 7.0 yards per carry, highlighted by an impressive 45-yard scamper against Dallas.

Pead is not competing for a starting job, but he is making a strong push for a roster spot. The Dolphins may keep four running backs -- and Ajayi, Foster and rookie Kenyan Drake (who is injured) are the only locks. That leaves Pead in a potential battle with Damien Williams and Daniel Thomas for one roster spot.

Pead is doing all he can to earn that spot and the trust of Miami’s coaching staff.

“I think that comes with accountability, being on time, doing what you gotta do and not giving them any reasons for mistakes,” Pead said Sunday.

Pead came into the league highly touted as a 2012 second-round pick by the Rams. Pead was expected to eventually become the starter with the Rams, but things never panned out. The most rushing yards he has gained in a season were the 54 yards he had as a rookie.

Entering his fourth season, Pead has impressed the Dolphins with his work ethic.

“I had my knucklehead years in the past at one point,” Pead said candidly. “But I grew up, learn from it and that’s life.”

Here are some other Dolphins notes from Sunday:

  • Rookie cornerback Xavien Howard returned off the physically unable to perform list over the weekend. Howard said Sunday he will not play in Thursday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, but he could play in the preseason finale against the Tennessee Titans. Howard missed all of training camp after getting his knee scoped and is expected to return in time for the regular season.

  • Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said focusing on the fundamentals will be key for the defense this week. “We got a lot more work to do,” Suh said. “It’s just technique. Focusing on technique will be my biggest takeaway from my game personally. There’s some errors that I didn’t like that I did. But at the end of the day, it’s preseason. That’s what it’s used for.”

  • Several Dolphins veterans said the third preseason game against the Falcons will be a good measuring stick before the regular season. The starters are expected to get extended time.