Miami Dolphins' Kenyan Drake heating up, proud of being complete back

By Alex Butler  |  Dec. 4, 2017 at 8:12 AM
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Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Kenyan Drake hadn't rushed for 100 yards in a game since his sophomore year at Alabama, before doing it again Sunday for the Miami Dolphins.

It happened against the Denver Broncos, one of the best rush defenses in the league.

And he says he isn't done quite yet. Drake earned his heaviest workload of the season -- and career -- Sunday in a 35-9 victory at Hard Rock Stadium. He carried 23 times for 120 yards and had a 42-yard touchdown. Drake also pulled in three catches for 21 yards.

"I'm all for helping my team win any way possible, so I pride myself in being a versatile player, not just a running back," Drake said. "So I don't need 20-25 carries a game to want to help my team win. I play special teams, things of that sort. So when my number is called, I just want to step up and help my team in every way possible."

The Broncos had closed the gap when Justin Simmons had a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter, making the score 19-9. Two minutes later, Drake his another gear, bursting for a 42-yard sprint to pay dirt.

But those runs are becoming commonplace for the second-year back. The Dolphins' third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft has had a nose for the big play in his new role, following the trade of Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles. Drake's 42-yard scamper was his second run of that exact distance in his last five games. He also had a long run three weeks ago, when he hit the hole for a 66-yard score in primetime against the Carolina Panthers.

"The most important thing is consistency, so at the end of the day it's following the game plan and making sure you are where you need to be, when you need to be there, and being on the same path with the offensive line. If you are moving to fast, you are ahead of the offensive line. If you are not there quick enough, you are behind it. This game is a game of inches. When everything lines up you have games like this."

Drake has needed many things to happen to land in this position as a reliable fantasy football running back. He started the season lower in the pecking order, behind the proclaimed 'workhorse' Jay Ajayi and fitting in around a pass catching back in Damien Williams.

Williams is now dealing with a shoulder injury. He missed Sunday's game and could miss more time with the ailment, prompting a continued workload for Drake. The Crimson Tide product says he's ready to fill whatever role he's needed for.

"I feel like I'm built for this at the end of the day," Drake said. "I've put my body through rigorous tests throughout the offseason and during the season in practice. I try to finish every play 30 or 40 yards down the field so I can keep my wind. Especially when it's in this type of weather. The defense comes here and they get worn down because they're not used to this type of atmosphere, so I pride myself in trying to be a complete back in that regard."

@kdx32 showing off the wheels.

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Drake supplied the effort agains a defense which ranks in the top 5 for fewest rushing yards allowed per game, but the Dolphins have a softer schedule ahead in terms of rush defenses.

"I thought he did a good job," Dolphins coach Adam Gase said of Drake. "He was patient with what we were asking him to do. A lot of times schematically we were leaving him the free guy. We were putting it on him to make them miss, trying to get us some better angles, and he did that. The good thing about Kenyan is that when he gets to the open field and it's one-on-one he's a tough guy to run down."

Miami hosts the New England Patriots in Week 14 and battle the Buffalo Bills in Week 15. Those defenses are allowing the seventh and eighth most rushing yards per game in the NFL, respectively. If Williams stays out, Drake is firmly in the top half of RB2s for the first few weeks of the fantasy football playoffs.

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