Less than three months ago, Jay Ajayi was wearing a Dolphins uniform. Now the starting running back for the Eagles, Ajayi is one game away from the Super Bowl.
Ajayi's road to the NFC Championship Game was unusual but he isn't yet ready to reflect on the midseason trade that brought him to this juncture. And he certainly isn't satisfied just to be here.
"I don't want to look back yet because, in my mind, I'm not done, and we're not done," Ajayi said Thursday. "It's about staying on course with what we want to do, which is take care of business this weekend and put ourselves in that Super Bowl and get ready to bring it back to Philly.
"After that, then I can look back and enjoy all the craziness that went on this year and have something to be proud of."
Even before the surprising trade went through, Ajayi was on a unique path. He was born in England and lived overseas until the age of seven. Widely considered a potential first-round talent, the Boise State product fell to the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft over reports of a chronic knee ailment. Then the Dolphins apparently had their fill of Ajayi after 2½ seasons, sending the Pro Bowl running back to the Eagles amid rumors he had become a malcontent.
Ajayi has already gone through more than most 24-year-olds, even as far as professional athletes are concerned. Though he acknowledged it feels "weird" to suddenly prepare for a conference championship game, he's probably become somewhat accustomed to the extraordinary, too.
"It hasn't really hit we have two games left," Ajayi said. "It still feels like the regular season. We've just been in the routine of everything.
"Just getting ready to play the biggest game of my career so far. It's exciting. I know we're all ready because we're so close, and it would be a shame not to get it done."
It's a tempered enthusiasm, however, as Ajayi is clearly still stewing over a costly fumble in the Eagles' divisional round playoff win over the Falcons.
Since joining the Eagles, Ajayi has been as advertised — a big, bruising ball carrier with the explosion and vision to hit home runs. In nine games, including postseason, he racked up 597 yards from scrimmage on 98 total touches for a 6.1 average.
Ajayi has also fumbled three times — once every 32.7 touches. If he continues to give the ball away against the Vikings and the league's No. 1 defense with the NFC title on the line, the Eagles will not advance.
"Us as a running back room, we know that for us to win this game, we're going to have to make sure we don't have any giveaways, hold on to the ball and run hard," Ajayi said.
Something about Ajayi's demeanor affirms it won't happen again, not in the biggest game of his career.
"They're just another opponent, and they're in the way of what we want to do," Ajayi said.
"It's going to be a physical game. We know it's going to be a dogfight."