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Kenyan Drake

Kenyan Drake, and his unfulfilled potential, off to Arizona

We knew this one was coming.

The last coaching staff couldn’t figure out how to use Kenyan Drake.

And this one never seemed especially interested in cracking that code either — in a contract season.

So Drake, who could rip off long runs but frustrated coaches in other areas, has been traded to the Arizona Cardinals as part of the Miami Dolphins’ historic purge. This came after Drake was kept home rather than making the trip to Pittsburgh for the Dolphins’ Monday Night Football clash (?) with the Steelers.

So, you see, they didn’t get much. But this adds to their stash, and gives them even more ammunition to move up if they identify players higher in the draft that they want.

So what does this mean?

Well, first, Mark Walton (from the University of Miami) appears to be the starter for now. Kallen Ballage has not impressed this season, and it’s likely the Dolphins will address running back with a couple of their picks.

Also, it means we will likely see Drake thrive elsewhere, at least at first, like Jay Ajayi did briefly in Philadelphia.

He’s an explosive player but can be an exasperating one too.

The concern here is that the Dolphins have traded so much of their core — think Minkah Fitzpatrick, who faces them tonight — that it’s hard to know what they’ll do with the next batch of “promising players.”

Now we see what Arizona does with him.

Last man who was part of the Miami Miracle, turn off the lights.

Should the Dolphins Trade RB Kenyan Drake?

Heading into the 2019 season, it seemed as though Dolphins’ RB Kenyan Drake was in-line for a bigger workload in Chad O’Shea’s offense.

Unfortunately, that did not happen.

And despite playing second-fiddle to Kalen Ballage throughout much of the offseason, he still remained the most explosive player on Miami’s offense. Truth is, he was not only the team’s best RB between the tackles, he had the most value as a pass-catcher and in a NE-style offense, this was just as important.

However, once Chris Grier began to purge the roster, Drake’s name immediately became involved in trade talks.

Prior to Miami’s 43-0 loss to New England, Fox Sport’s Jay Glazer reporter Drake asked for a trade, which angered the 25-year old RB.

Reports from Drake and ‘sources’ around the team suggest he never asked for a trade, and wasn’t overly concerned with what the future entailed. But all of that has changed in recent weeks. And with the emergence of Mark Walton as the heir apparent and current RB1, trade rumors have once again started to circulate.

What can Miami expect in to get in a trade?

Which begs the question, what would it take for the Dolphins to part ways with the RB most known for his improbable run that will forever be remembered as the ‘Miami Miracle’?

Ideally, a player of his skill set and youth would fetch a third-round pick. Unfortunately, the Dolphins are unlikely to see a team part with a day two pick. After all, if reports are true, Miami already tried to lock Drake up long-term. And if he is indeed on the trade block, the price tag may be too rich for any team long-term.

So what is fair compensation?.

Personally, I think if a team offers the Dolphins a fourth-round pick, Chris Grier would be ecstatic. This should also appeal to the handful of teams that need a RB. A RB that has the skills as both a runner and pass-catcher.

In the end, no one knows if Drake will be traded before the October 29th deadline. But what we do know is his future in Miami is bleak. And for a front office looking for every and any, opportunity to land draft capital, it would be in both sides interest to strike a deal.

Time will tell, but for now it appears Kenyan Drake’s days in Miami are numbered.

Josh Houtz (@houtz) is a die-hard fan of the Miami Dolphins, and will miss Kenyan Drake if traded.

Miami Dolphins running backs show promise in defeat

There were positives for the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

The Miami Dolphins narrowly lost to the Washington Redskins by a 17-16 score. In what was such a close game, it marked another defeat for the good guys. With this being a rebuilding year, it has been hard to find positives. However, the running game was in full force on Sunday. Something has to be said for that.

Kenyan Drake was the leading rusher for the Miami Dolphins. He carried the ball 10 times for 40 yards, gaining four yards a carry. Perhaps even more importantly, he received help. Mark Walton rushed the ball six times for 32 yards. Kalen Ballage carried the rock three times for seven yards. All told, the Miami Dolphins were able to establish the running game.

That was not something that was there earlier in the year. At times, Miami had trouble running the football. Granted, these numbers do not exactly scream “elite rushing attack,” but the numbers are there. Maybe this is going to be the hallmark of the 2019 Miami Dolphins. Maybe the running game is what the Miami Dolphins are going to pride themselves on this year. One thing is for sure, the passing game leaves a lot to be desired.

It’s important to recognize that these running backs do a lot more than just running the football. Both Drake and Walton were key figures in the passing game. Walton caught five passes for 43 yards, while Drake caught six passes for 30 yards. Again, are those numbers that are going to make the front page of ESPN? No, probably not. However, these are numbers that can certainly be something to build off of. Versatility is the name of the game for those two backs.

If nothing else, Sunday’s performance by the running backs proves that the offense flows through them. Although the Miami Dolphins did not get the win on Sunday, the running backs showed that they can be a dependable unit. In a rebuilding year, that certainly counts for something.That unit did everything they could to put Miami in a position to win. Although it did not amount to wins on Sunday, all the signs are there for the unit to be trending upward.

Kenyan Drake

Could Kenyan Drake be the next player traded?

Kenyan Drake is probably the next one going out.

Having an updated roster by your side on Sundays is becoming more of a necessity as the Dolphins continue to trade off players.

After Sunday’s blowout loss to New England, the Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers exchanged late-round picks in a trade that sent Minkah Fitzpatrick to Pittsburgh for a 2020 first-round pick.

As of today, only Reshad Jones, Xavien Howard, Bobby McCain, DeVante Parker and Kenyan Drake have spent more than three years in Miami. While the Dolphins continue to stockpile draft picks, could one of these guys be the next to be out in Miami?

However, there are conflicting reports to the rumors.

All seems quiet on the trade front, but if the 2019 Miami Dolphins have shown us anything, every player can be traded. Especially if offered the right price.

Through two games, Drake has 10 carries for 31 yards and seven receptions for 44 yards. Keep in mind, those numbers tell us more about Miami’s talent on offense. Drake has offered the Miami
Dolphins a big-play threat since being drafted in the third round of the 2016 draft.

While runningbacks are undervalued in today’s NFL, keeping (and extending) Kenyan Drake gives the Dolphins a consistent threat on a generally inexperienced team for years to come. If traded, the Dolphins would ride out the season with Kalen Ballage, Mark Walton and rookie Myles Gaskin carrying the rock.

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Minkah Fitzpatrick seeking trade away from Miami Dolphins

After the rout at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, multiple reports came out that several Dolphins players wanted out. The locker room emptied out almost instantly. Players contacted their agents desperately seeking help to find an escape route. Now, at least one player is confirmed to be part of that group. 2018 first round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick has been granted permission to seek a trade, per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

A Dolphins official informed ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe that while the team is not actively shopping Fitzpatrick, they have not denied his agent, Joel Segal, permission to talk with other teams. So if some teams offers up a king’s ransom like the Dolphins got for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills, it’s likely Fitzpatrick will be the latest casualty of Miami’s tanking process.

Miami is reportedly looking for a return on their first round investment on Fitzpatrick. Teams seem unwilling to part with such a valuable asset for the former Alabama standout, but stranger things have happened.

Fitzpatrick is highly regarded for his versatility. However, Miami’s desire to use him in multiple roles has been a point of contention for months. Back in August, Fitzpatrick’s mother came out to express her displeasure over her son being misused. Fitzpatrick himself later confirmed he felt the same. He had hoped that a new regime would offer clarification on what his position in the defense was. Instead, things got even cloudier.

As a result of this position juggling, Fitzpatrick has been unable to settle in. His level of play is diminishing as he cannot focus on one thing at a time. He played four different positions against Baltimore, including linebacker. That sort of responsibility is too much to ask of almost anyone, let alone a second-year player.

Potential Consequences

Under these circumstances, it’s hard to imagine the Dolphins’ plan working out. The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reports that at least one other veteran wants to leave. That player will never admit it publicly, but it’s easy to speculate. Reshad Jones, Kenyan Drake, Albert Wilson, they all have something to offer contenders. Minkah Fitzpatrick is an elite level nickel cornerback. Miami doesn’t want to let him sit there, despite uprooting Bobby McCain from there to supposedly let Fitzpatrick take that role.

No matter which way you slice it, this is a bad look for the Dolphins. This comes just days after players like Davon Godchaux and Jerome Baker took to social media to support “trusting the process,” so to speak.

As of this moment, Fitzpatrick is still scheduled to play against the New England Patriots, in the same role he’s been in so far. If what happened last week happens again, the locker room mutiny could continue to grow out of control. Brian Flores needs to find a solution, and fast.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for six years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

Dolphins list Kenyan Drake as the week-one starter

The Miami Dolphins released their week-one depth chart as they prepare to face the Baltimore Ravens at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday and Kenyan Drake is there.

While it is easy to get caught up in all the new names on Miami’s roster, Kenyan Drake, who saw limited playing time this preseason, stands out as a week-one starter.

There was plenty of hype surrounding Kalen Ballage during the offseason, but the excitement died down after a preseason that included 18 rushing attempts for just 40 yards. He finished with an average of 20 yards per game, averaged 2.2 yards per carry and found the end zone once.

Many expect Ballage to have a breakout 2019 after a few impressive runs last season, which included a 75-yard touchdown run against the Vikings.

Kenyan Drake saw just four attempts in the preseason, however, he solidified himself as a play maker in Miami, scoring 13 touchdowns over the last two seasons.

It is important to keep in mind that it is common practice for a team to use a handful of backs, compared to just one who may touch the ball 20-25 times a game. Odds are that both Kenyan Drake and Ballage will get their fair share of touches.

Miami’s running back depth will be worth watching, especially for those who own one or both in fantasy as the Dolphins try to uncover players who fit into Miami’s long-term plan.

Kalen Ballage

Kalen Ballage rushing full speed towards Dolphins starting RB job

Kalen Ballage is getting a rare opportunity with Kenyan Drake down with an injury. The Dolphins are going to need a running back, so he’s responding to the call by making play after play. His speed and acceleration caught the Tampa Bay Buccaneers off guard both days they held joint practices, resulting in several touchdowns. That level of production does not go unnoticed, and it’s clear head coach Brian Flores is enjoying noticing them.

“Oh, I saw them.” He said during his Wednesday press conference.

It makes sense that Ballage is pushing himself with Drake out. At the start of training camp, he was the one who worked with the starters, only to eventually be overtaken by the Alabama speedster as the days went on. It appeared that Drake was ready to lock down the starting job, at least until these joint practices with Tampa. All of a sudden, he, QB Josh Rosen and WR Preston Williams are getting chances to work with the starters after being stuck under the veterans.

“I think young guys have to be able to come out here and make plays.” Ballage said Wednesday. “This (isn’t) college anymore. It’s not high school. In my opinion, age doesn’t really matter. I think you just come out here and if you can ball, you can ball. I think that’s a big part of it.”

He’s doing a good job of impressing the coaches, and those touchdown runs included good execution across the board. That’s precisely what coach Flores is looking for in his players.

“They all work together. It’s 11 guys.” He said. “If you put 11 guys in and they execute their responsibility, you’ll get a good play. Kalen did a good job of making a guy miss, and that’s how you get long runs, receivers blocking corners and secondary players, and that’s how you get long runs. It takes everybody.”

At this point, it’s impressive that Kalen Ballage is able to do as much as he’s doing. The Dolphins offensive line is an absolute mess, so these touchdown runs are a testament to the home run capability Ballage has in him. It also acts as a demonstration for what the offense itself is capable of.

“It’s something that I’ve always known.” Ballage said. “I think that it gets the best athletes and the best talents in space, gets them the ball and kind of puts the rest on us to make plays. I think that that’s something that’s real important.”

Ballage’s opportunity to showcase himself stands to last a while, especially since Kenyan Drake has to wear a walking boot for an undisclosed amount of time. While coach Flores isn’t really concerned, indicating Drake will be ready for week one of the regular season at the latest, it doesn’t bode well for Drake with Ballage running full speed towards the starting job.

Kalen Ballage has had his struggles, but they appear to be past him. Back in college, he felt extremely underused. In his rookie season, he sat behind Drake and veteran Frank Gore. He appears ready to take charge, and he has a chance to prove it on Friday.

Chandler Cox

Chandler Cox giving Miami Dolphins much-needed physicality

Think back to the last time the Miami Dolphins had a fullback. More than likely, the name Lousaka Polite springs to mind. Polite was the bruiser, they guy that was given the ball when it was third and short and Miami needed a first down. Unremarkable, but reliable, and steadfast. Since then, the Dolphins have made halfhearted attempts to find a replacement, but not until now, with Chandler Cox, have they add any success.

The last real fullback Miami had on the roster was Jorvorskie Lane. Serviceable, but he never lived up to Polite’s standards. Then the Dolphins tried to get Charles Clay to be an H-back type hybrid, playing both tight end and fulback. It soon became clear that Clay was more effective as a pass-catching tight end. There was also the reported pursuit of veteran fullback Vonta Leach, one of the best at his dying position, back in 2013. Ultimately, nothing came out of that, and since then the position has been in limbo.

Both Joe Philbin and Adam Gase decided to forgo the fullback position for the most part, putting strong emphasis on the passing game. Ryan Tannehill was tasked with making the offense run almost solely on his arm, with little to no investment placed in the running game. Only in 2016, with now free agent RB Jay Ajayi, did anyone get to see what the offense could look like when they started playing smashmouth football. Ajayi became an instant star, and the Dolphins made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

But it wouldn’t last. Ajayi’s body gave out just as his ego kicked in, and Gase sent Ajayi to the Eagles where he won the Super Bowl in 2017. He didn’t contribute much to that victory, but it was a victory all the same. And once again, Miami’s rushing attack fell by the wayside.

Enter Brian Flores, who comes from New England. The Patriots know how important a strong running game is, and Flores made it clear Miami would remember that lesson. They would have a fullback, no questions asked.

“I think it adds a competitiveness, a grit, a toughness, to the team.” He said back in late May. “We want to run the football. I think having a lead blocker clear the way helps that, I value that position. I think it brings a toughness, a grit that I think I like in my team … Quite honestly, I played linebacker and I’ve had to deal with fullbacks. It’s not always the easiest thing to do. Wherever the league goes is where it goes; but personally, having dealt with a lead blocker, it’s not an easy thing to deal with.”

That much is true. With a fullback leading the way, defenders have to get through an extra player to bring down the running back. In that moment it might take to knock down the fullback, the running back could score a touchdown. That is precisely what happened on Thursday night against the Falcons. Mark Walton was handed the football, and Cox blocked two different defenders, leading to a score that gave Miami the lead.

Chandler Cox already has the respect of his teammates. With fullbacks being a dying breed, the fact he goes out there and does everything he can do to contribute makes him a rarity.

“He’s an Auburn guy, but you know, I won’t hold that against him.” Drake joked on Thursday. “He goes in there, he’s still out there doing his job, so I know he’s going to be tired up in this game, but he’s a rookie so he’s got to get his dues in, so I look forward to him doing a lot more for this season.”

Having a fullback is a luxury it seems, one that most teams decide not to have. With the NFL putting more and more focus on protecting quarterbacks, it’s clear that the league wants teams to throw more. But the effectiveness of a fullback can’t be denied. And some believe the position may yet see a comeback as Miami adjusts to having one.

“I think it will be, but it takes time to do that when you haven’t done that.” running back coach Eric Studesville said in late July. “It’s different to have another guy closer to you and he has to make decisions. There is a trust that builds in that. Chandler (Cox) has done a great job of coming in here. It started yesterday in pads right away. He’s physical with his pad level. We’ll all get better at that and we’ll get better feeling him and what’s going on. I think it adds another dimension to our offense and capabilities and what defenses have to prepare for.”

Chandler Cox adds an extra blocker, and he has the ability to run if necessary. He can catch, he can lead, he can back up the offensive line in the backfield, he’s the full package. And, he’s already adjusting well. Becoming a physical team after spending so long focused on finesse will take time. But Cox will do a lot to speed up the process.