Eagles coach Doug Pederson said veteran running back LeGarrette Blount’s role remains unchanged with the arrival of Jay Ajayi, who Pederson said must first learn the offense. Ajayi practiced Wednesday for the first time. Pederson didn’t even commit to playing Ajayi on Sunday against the Denver Broncos until he sees how quickly Ajayi can adjust.
“[Blount’s] not going to play any more or any less than what he’s getting right now,” Pederson said. “Jay, he’s got to learn our system first. I can’t just throw him out there without him not understanding what we’re doing. … Again, it goes back to how fast Jay can pick up our system and get comfortable with the things we’re doing. Again, it would be a disservice to just throw him out there right away. Nothing’s going to change as far as the rotation and how we’re doing things right now.”
Of course, that’s unlikely to remain the case. There are only so many snaps and so many carries to distribute, so simple math would suggest the other running backs will be affected by Ajayi’s arrival. But Pederson was careful to speculate before the team knows exactly what they have with Ajayi. He said he will tailor the running plays to each rusher’s strengths. But clearly, Ajayi is a talented player that the Eagles acquired to fill a big role.
“This guy’s a tough, powerful runner, first thing,” Pederson said. “He’s got great vision. He’s got a great first step, quick back inside behind tackles and guards. One guy doesn’t necessarily bring him down all the time. You have to go back a little bit to really watch him run routes and see that he’s very capable of being a route runner out of the backfield. He brings a very aggressive run demeanor to our offense.”
Pederson also lauded Ajayi’s pass-catching ability and thinks Ajayi can learn the Eagles’ pass-protection responsibilities. Running backs coach Duce Staley gave Ajayi a crash course on what the Eagles require.
The other question is how Ajayi fits into the chemistry of the locker room. Pederson takes pride in the locker room culture the Eagles created and thinks that will allow Ajayi to join without issue.
“We’ve established a culture on how we do things around here,” Pederson said. “I implore those guys to just embrace it and to bring him in. I’ve had a conversation with him, and we have to be open and honest and say, ‘Hey, this is how we do things around here,’ and welcome him in and get him up to speed.”
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