For the past several weeks, rookie running back Kenyan Drake has found himself standing on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury he suffered, which opened the door for fellow running backs Isaiah Pead and Damien Williams to take extra snaps and show what they're made of.
But after all this time waiting around, Drake finally made it back to practice and will now get the opportunity to show what he can do in a game setting. Head coach Adam Gase made it clear he intends to get a good long look at the former Alabama speedster against the Titans.
"With the minimal practice snaps we’ve really had (with him), the little time he was out there we were feeling good about his progress compared to where we were at in spring." Gase said. "At least mentally, we were feeling lightyears better. (With) him not practicing as long as he has and (he hasn’t) really been hit in a real game yet, (so) this will be important for him.”
Drake, who was drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL draft, has had issues with durability all throughout college. His hamstring previously bothered him before his senior year at Alabama, and he's had at least seven different injuries during his time in college. Despite this fact, Drake doesn't see it as a cause for concern.
“Football’s a tough sport,” Drake said. “People get hurt. It’s about how you come back from an injury. … Hamstring injuries are very lingering. The training staff will tell me whether to go 90 (percent) or go as fast as I can. I’m a competitor, so when I go out there, it’s instinct.”
Drake will need that instinct if he's going to dive head first into a game after having minimal time in practice, especially with the likes of Isaiah Pead still breathing down his neck, just waiting to jump at the chance to show that what he showed during the first two preseason games are better representatives of his skill than the third one.
Considering the fact that Gase thought highly enough of Drake that he felt he was worth being drafted in the third round despite his injury concerns, it's clear that the former Alabama running back will be getting every opportunity possible to prove himself on Thursday.
“Obviously I’d love to just see what he can do as far as routes go and what he can do in the pass game." Gase said. "But at the same time, he’s shown us in the run game that he’s very effective, at least in the limited snaps that we saw of him in practice. I think we’d like to see if we can get him going in a little bit of both but you never know how this game is going to play out. You’d like to get him touches in both areas of that part of the game.”
The Dolphins will no doubt go out of their way to give Kenyan Drake the ball against the Titans, but the rookie will have a lot of work to do to make up for lost time. Either way, Drake insists that no matter gets thrown at him, he's ready to play.
“It’s important for me just to get on the field in general, see the speed of the game,” Drake said. “Carries, special teams, no matter what the case is. I’m ready to play.”
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
Latest Dolphins News