PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Jay Ajayi remembers the pain from a year ago.
The Eagles’ running back was playing in Miami and was part of a Dolphins squad which qualified for the post-season. The Dolphins were one and done last winter as they fell in Pittsburgh on Wild Card weekend. Ajayi remembers the finality of the end of the season and has no intention of feeling the same pain with the Eagles this month.
“It’s just remembering that taste of going home,” said Ajayi. “It’s getting bounced out and eliminated. It’s understanding everything that you’ve worked for is over. That memory is definitely something that adds fuel.”
Ajayi may need plenty of fuel for Saturday’s game against Atlanta. It is clear the Eagles will try to run the football and ease the burden for Quarterback Nick Foles. There is also speculation Ajayi will have an increased role. After being acquired in the middle of the season, Ajayi has settled into the playbook and has been getting more carries on game day. If the workload increases on Saturday, Ajayi says he is rested and ready to go with the help of the bye week last week.
“I’ve felt good,” Ajayi said. “I’ve been working diligently with the training staff and doing my usual routine and just making sure I always feel fresh for the games. It’s been a long season, but I’m only hoping it’s longer than this and that we continue to move forward.”
Atlanta’s defense was impressive in its Wild Card victory over Los Angles, but Ajayi did plenty of damage to the Falcons’ defenders earlier in the season. When Ajayi was still a member of the Dolphins, he rushed for 130 yards in a Miami win in Atlanta. While Ajayi insists he wasn’t rooting for a particular team to emerge as the Eagles opponent, he is hoping his experience against the Falcons from earlier this season will help him on Saturday.
“I’ve seen them before,” Ajayi said. I’m a little bit familiar. Just watching the tape as well has been helpful. I’ve kind have been able to use my experience of playing them earlier this year. You just remember some things that work and some things you can fix.”
Ajayi and the Eagles will also have a chance to silence their critics. Many have been predicting gloom and doom for the Eagles ever since Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending knee injury. Ajayi knows the season will be on the line this Saturday. The running back is hoping he and his teammates will prove the prognosticators wrong and advance to the NFC Championship game.
“Everyone’s been focused,” said Ajayi. “We understand it’s win or go home. It’s a three-game war for us. This is the team that’s in the way of what we want to accomplish. We understand what the outside world thinks of us and we’re okay with that. We believe in what we have and who we have and that’s just been our mindset.”