Among the many concerns fans have going into the third preseason (besides the entire defense of course) is the lack of a running game from the Dolphins' first team unit.
The oft-injured 4 time Pro Bowler Arian Foster is one of them. But when asked how much work he needs to be ready for the season, he stated confidently:
And when asked with bemusement by reporters how he came to that exact number, he replied with perhaps a touch of sarcasm:
“It's an algorithm.”
Now the exchange went on for a while longer, but the tone of the conversation was a verbal eye roll at all of the incessant questions about Foster’s performance in a few preseason games. In essence he was saying: Everyone just calm down—I’ve been doing this for a while remember? And not that long ago I was considered one of the best at it.
Two seasons can be like dog years for an NFL running back, particularly one facing the wrong side of thirty and two seasons cut short by significant injuries. So even though Foster may want “thirty seven” carries (joke or not) he more than likely won’t even come close to that before the Dolphins open on the road against Seattle.
Head coach Adam Gase has made it clear to anyone who will listen that he is taking extra precaution with Foster and that the veteran would benefit more from rest than taking unnecessary snaps in the preseason—that’s what the younger players are here for. Those younger players who haven’t proved much yet in the league.
Gase has been consistent with this message—when asked about it on Monday he said the same things he’s been saying to anyone who will listen.
“We didn't have much to evaluate,” he said. “Whatever carries he had, there wasn't much there to try to create. He did a couple of things on his own. Hopefully we can take a long look at him this week. I don't want to overdo it with him. Obviously, his resume speaks for itself.”
The man does have a valid point—Foster does rank 10th among all active running backs with 6,109 rushing yards. Foster agreed with Gase’s take on what the preseason does for veterans such as himself.
“The preseason's about knocking the cobwebs off, getting back in the groove, seeing things you haven't seen in a while, just getting a feel for the game,” Foster said, who called these exhibition games "kind of a glorified practice.”
“You still go out there and treat it like a workday,” he added. “You never want to embarrass the logo on your helmet. Everybody has pride, but you have to keep things in perspective.”
It may be why Gase and company are much more philosophical about preseason games in general, eschewing the scores and focusing on what the preseason is really for—evaluation and getting ready for the regular season.
“You’ve got to get certain guys ready,” Gase said. “You’ve got to evaluate certain guys. The hardest part is, when you have to play a full game, a lot of things change in the second half.”
It may be hard for fans to believe things are actually going to be different—but make no mistake, coach Gase has a plan—and he doesn’t really care what it looks like to the outside eye. They have bigger things to be concerned with—playing in arguably the most hostile environment in the league and facing the “legion of boom.”
If losing a few preseason games helps the team pull out a victory in Seattle, then looking bad when the games don’t count will have been well worth it.
This story was written by Richard Wilt. Follow him on Twitter: @richardactor71
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