Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he spoke with running back Jay Ajayi on Monday and “he’s fine.”
“He’s so excited to be here, obviously. He’s on a winning football team, contributes any way he wants to,” Pederson said.
Ajayi arrived from Miami last month at the trade deadline. His third game as an Eagle, Sunday’s 31-3 rout of the Chicago Bears, was his least productive, Ajayi getting just five carries for 26 yards. He would have been in negative yardage except for a 30-yard run that ended with his losing the ball, which Nelson Agholor alertly pounced on in the end zone for the day’s final touchdown, early in the fourth quarter.
Ajyai’s postgame mood seemed less than cheerful, and he answered questions with repeated variations of how he just runs the plays the coaches call. This led NBC Sports Philadelphia postgame analyst Ray Didinger, watching the taped interview, to infer that Ajayi might be unhappy with his role. Didinger acknowledged he didn’t know if this was the case, but if it were, Ajayi should just “shut up and tote the ball.”
Ajayi responded on Twitter with the word CLOWNS, which he helpfully illustrated with clown emojis.
This somehow became a story, even though Ajayi never said anything about being dissatisfied with his role, and no one else around the team – such as teammates or coaches – said or even hinted that this was the case.
“He was frustrated from the standpoint of, he had a chance to score, you know, and lost the ball. It was great hustle by ‘Nelly’ to recover that thing,” Pederson said. “Any running back’s going to be frustrated. We put the ball on the ground a little bit too much.” The Birds fumbled four times Sunday, including Malcolm Jenkins on an interception return.
Pederson said the Eagles will have to tighten up the sloppiness that led to those fumbles and to 11 penalties Sunday if they want to beat the 7-4 Seahawks at Seattle this weekend.
Pederson said middle linebacker Joe Walker, who left Sunday’s game with a stinger, will be limited in Wednesday’s practice.