Jay Ajayi wastes no time asserting himself in Eagles debut

Jay Ajayi wastes no time asserting himself in Eagles debut

Jay Ajayi looked confused. 

With his backpack hoisted over his shoulders and a beanie cap holding down his black and blonde dreadlocks as he walked through the Eagles' locker room, Ajayi needed some directions. 

He didn't know how to get out of the stadium. 

He didn't look nearly as lost on the field. Just five days after a trade brought him north from Miami for a fourth-round pick, Ajayi carried the ball eight times for 77 yards, which included a 46-yard touchdown in the second quarter in the Birds' 51-23 win Sunday over the Broncos (see breakdown)

"[The touchdown] was special," Ajayi said in his delightful British accent. "First off, it was my first touchdown of the season. And it's exciting for it to have been in Philly in my first game as an Eagle. I don't think it could have been written any better than that." 

Not only was Ajayi's touchdown the first of this season, it was also the first rushing TD the Broncos had given up all year.

Once Ajayi busted through the line, he thought he had a chance to score. He had a couple blockers in front who were able to lead the way. The touchdown run was the Eagles' second-longest of the season and the fourth-longest run of Ajayi's career. He capped it by diving head-first into the end zone. 

"I saw him hauling ass and then I saw him diving for the pylons," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "Fantastic run, man."

"We saw it on the big board," fellow running back Corey Clement said. "It's hard to miss it. He did a great job of getting into the end zone. Couldn't be happier."

He was also pretty happy to be playing in front of the home fans at the Linc for the first time (see Roob's observations). Every carry he got, the crowd got pretty loud. He called the atmosphere "electric" and was excited to experience it. 

While the Eagles haven't given Ajayi the entire playbook just yet, they did want him to feel comfortable with 10-15 plays. Before he was given a handoff, Ajayi was on the field as what looked like a decoy. It seemed pretty clear Denver expected him to get the ball when he was in. 

Ajayi led the Eagles in rushing Sunday and put together the second-best individual rushing performance against the Broncos all season. Only the Giants' Orleans Darwka rushed for more. In fact, Ajayi rushed for more yards on his own Sunday than four teams have against the Broncos this season (see report card). The Broncos came into Sunday with the second-best rush defense in the league. The Eagles — led by Ajayi — put up 197 yards against them. 

"I'm excited to have [Ajayi] here because I've been a fan of his all the way back to last year," said LeGarrette Blount, who had 37 yards on nine carries. "He is a really good player and is an exciting and dynamic player to watch."

In the days since the trade brought Ajayi to town, he and running backs coach Duce Staley "had some long nights" trying to teach Ajayi the playbook. 

"It's impressive," Carson Wentz said. "Hats off to him. He came in with a 'I want to work' attitude right away. That was great to see. Great communication he fits in well in the locker room and everything as well. He's a smart kid and he picked up on things pretty quickly."

The 24-year-old Ajayi thinks the bye week is coming at the perfect time for him. He'll be able to finally breathe and have some more leisurely time to learn the playbook before the Nov. 19 game in Dallas against the Cowboys. 

Things have been pretty hectic for Ajayi over the last week. 

"It was just about coming in and getting ready for Sunday," Ajayi said. "That was the main focus. Then I can focus on finding my place and getting my life situated out here." 

And getting out of the building.

Eagles Mailbag: Biggest concern on 2018 roster

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Eagles Mailbag: Biggest concern on 2018 roster

We’ve officially reached the only sort of dead period on the NFL calendar. The Eagles are through their spring practices and won’t be back at the NovaCare Complex until July 25 for the start of training camp. 

That sounds far away, but it’ll be here before you know it. 

You guys were great and gave me a ton of questions, so I’ll answer half today and half Sunday. Let’s go: 

I’m tempted to say defensive tackle just for health concerns surrounding Tim Jernigan, but I have to answer linebacker. Jordan Hicks appears to be healthy after tearing his Achilles last year, but as good as he is when healthy, it’s just tough to count on him. Two years ago, he was able to play a full season and things were looking good, but then he suffered another serious injury. If Hicks and Bradham stay healthy, linebackers aren’t a concern. The Eagles will have either Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry or Corey Nelson take the weakside spot on base downs and they’ll be OK. 

But without Mychal Kendricks, it’s fair to be concerned about their depth at the position, especially after veteran pickup Paul Worrilow was already lost for the year. Kendricks came up huge last year as a fill-in; not sure the Eagles have that kind of depth this year. 

Not sure yet. What I can tell you about De’Vante Bausby is that he was impressive this spring and the coaching staff seems to love him. I remain very, very skeptical that he’s good enough to keep Sidney Jones off the field. With that said, I do think he’s talented enough to make the 53-man roster. We’ll get a better sense at camp when the pads go on, but I have him penciled in to make the team. 

Yes on both. The Nate Sudfeld hype is real. In our first extended looks at the young quarterback, he’s been incredibly impressive. It’s starting to make sense why the Eagles snatched him from Washington and then blocked the Colts from signing him last season. They kept him on the 53 in the second half of last year, so they’re completely prepared to keep three QBs on this year’s roster if Foles is still on the team. 

This is going to be the summer of Nate Sudfeld. We’re going to see him play a ton in those preseason games and that will let us know if he’s ready to be QB2 behind Carson Wentz. But the fact that the Eagles didn’t bring in a more experienced veteran after Wentz went down last year pretty much tells you all you need to know about what the Eagles think of him. 

We tried that. Didn’t work out well. We’re up for suggestions. 

You have no idea how out of water this fish is. This is like taking a fish from the ocean and dropping it in Kansas. 

How about Portugal? I’ll go with them because of Ronaldo. 

Where should Carson Wentz land on NFL's top 10 list?

Where should Carson Wentz land on NFL's top 10 list?

We now officially know Carson Wentz will be somewhere in the top 10 of the NFL Network’s top 100 players of 2018. 

We just don’t know where he’ll land. 

As far as the other Eagles on the list, the Super Bowl champions weren’t extremely well-represented: 68. Zach Ertz, 69. Fletcher Cox, 95. Lane Johnson, 96. Malcolm Jenkins. 

Before tearing his ACL and LCL on Dec. 10 in Los Angeles, it seemed like Wentz was on his way to an MVP season. In 13 games, Wentz threw for over 3,200 yards and a franchise-record 33 touchdown passes. 

Wentz is the only player in the top 10 who has never been anywhere on the top 100 list before. Can he go from off the list to No. 1?

Here’s the list of players (in alphabetical order) who will be unveiled in the top 10 on Monday night. 

  • Le'Veon Bell 
  • Tom Brady 
  • Drew Brees 
  • Antonio Brown
  • Aaron Donald 
  • Todd Gurley
  • Julio Jones 
  • Von Miller 
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Carson Wentz

In the comments below, leave your top 10 in order. We’ll see how close everyone can get. 

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