Jay Ajayi envisions himself as the lead running back with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Ajayi's view may very well be correct, but the three-tier carousel in 2017 has ballooned a bit during the offseason.
While LeGarrette Blount has since moved on to the Detroit Lions, Corey Clement is now joined by Darren Sproles after the veteran speedster's return from a torn ACL. Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey are also in the mix while former Washington Redskins running back Matt Jones was added to the team as well.
"Obviously, things have gotten a little shaken up in our room," the 24-year-old Ajayi said, via Philly.com. "I'm excited to get into that lead role, do what's needed of me and just go bull. It was kind of a year and a half removed from being 'the guy.' So I'm excited to kind of get back in that role and showcase again to the world what I can do."
Ajayi is entering his contract year, a situation with which the running back is keenly aware.
"Obviously, you understand what the stakes are going into this season," Ajayi said. "I'm not going to let it affect the way I carry out my business. Obviously, yeah, I understand that is something that will come to a crossroads at some point, whether it's during the season or at the end of the year."
Ajayi showcased the workhorse mentality during the 2016 season in Miami. He rushed for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns as the Dolphins punched a ticket to the postseason for the first time since 2008.
The 6-foot, 223-pound Ajayi didn't get out of the blocks as fast in 2017, leading to a midseason trade with the Eagles for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Miami Herald reported that Ajayi was jettisoned because of "team culture, locker room chemistry and player buy-in."
Ajayi had rushed for 465 yards on 138 carries, but had been held out of the end zone with Miami.
He had 70 carries for 408 yards and one touchdown in seven games with the Eagles while adding 10 catches for 91 yards and a score.