Miami Dolphins running backs Jay Ajayi and Arian Foster are battling for the title of the team’s starter, though it may not mean much as the two are likely to both see plenty of carries as the regular season progresses. But, is there a third running back who should be in consideration? Fourth-year running back Isaiah Pead is making a case for it.
On Friday night against the Dallas Cowboys, Pead ran the ball four times for 48 yards. He picked up 45 yards on one carry, bouncing the ball outside and showing the speed needed to get away from defenders chasing him. He also caught a pass for 30 yards.
A week earlier against the New York Giants, Pead carried the ball 10 times for 50 yards, breaking a 26 yard run on the day.
In both games, Pead led Miami in rushing yards.
Is that enough for Pead to be considered in the running for the starting running back position?
Probably not. But it is enough for him to start getting carries with the first team.
Everything Pead has done thus far has been against second- and third-team defenses. He has been great with he opportunities he has been given. A player once considered on the roster bubble, Pead appears to be a near lock for a depth running back. Just how good is he? Only carries against a first-team defense will answer that question.
Pead was a second-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2012. He appeared in 15 games that season, but only carried the ball 10 times for 54 yards. In 2013 he appeared in 10 games after serving a one-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, but again saw limited carries, picking up 21 yards on seven attempts.
The 2014 season saw Pead tear his ACL in the preseason, missing the entire year. He returned in 2015, but only saw action in two games, with two carries for three yards. He was released by the Rams during the season, and spent a brief stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but did not make an appearance.
So, Pead has never been able to stay on the field, or prove himself worthy of being a feature back in the NFL. The question still remains as to whether he can be more than just a player who picks up a couple of carries every few games. Should he be more a part of Miami’s offense?
Adding carries with the first team in the preseason is really the only way to answer that question. Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said after Friday’s game, "Every time he gets in the game, he seems to pop one." That is a great trait for a running back. Will it transfer when the talent-level on the field is better?
Now is the time to find out.
Pead may not actually be a threat for the starting job, but he should be given the chance to claim some of the carries.