Dolphins' backup running backs ready to step up against Browns

Arian Foster's groin injury might open the door for Jay Ajayi to make a statement. Chris Trotman/Getty Images

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins raised some eyebrows this summer when they took an unusual amount of running backs into the regular season. The team believed it had five quality, versatile players at the position and kept them all on the 53-man roster.

Three weeks later, Miami’s running back depth could get its first major test. With starter Arian Foster's status up in the air after missing Wednesday's practice with an injured groin, the door is open for the Dolphins' four remaining running backs -- Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake, Isaiah Pead and Damien Williams -- to step up against Cleveland's 19th-ranked defense.

The Dolphins could go with a feature back -- likely Ajayi -- or a combination from their stable.

"If it's more than one [tailback], I'm not opposed to that," Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Wednesday. "I think all of those guys have great skill sets and they're all different, which is a strength for us, at least that's the way I see it. We'll just see how this goes."

The Dolphins' second half against the New England Patriots could offer a prelude to Miami's approach. Ajayi and Drake shared the work in the second half after Foster went down and combined for 26 rushing yards and a touchdown.

This is a particularly big game for Ajayi, who was in the doghouse after not responding well to being named the backup after the preseason. He didn't make the trip to Seattle in Week 1 but played his first game this past Sunday against New England.

"I feel that we need to do a better job on our own of establishing the run game," Ajayi said. "I think that this week is going to be a week to make that statement. I think we can be downhill guys, guys that can keep drives going, pick up first downs and score touchdowns."

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said he is confident in whichever tailback lines up behind him on Sunday.

"I think our running backs are kind of plug and play," Tannehill said. "It doesn't really matter who is in there, we feel confident that they're going to make plays for us and get the job done."