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Dolphins' Kenyan Drake not focused on RB1 role

By Alex Butler
Dolphins' Kenyan Drake not focused on RB1 role
Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake (32) had more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage in 2018, but received a smaller workload out of the backfield under former coach Adam Gase than he did during his 2017 campaign. File Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo

DAVIE, Fla., July 27 (UPI) -- Many eyes are focused on the Miami Dolphins' training camp quarterback competition, but Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage are also fighting for the starting running back job.

But Drake says keeping the job as the Dolphins' top back isn't something he's "necessarily focussed on."

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"I'm focused on getting better every day," Drake said on the second day of Dolphins training camp. "[Saturday] we put the pads on and get to bang a little bit. That's football. I'm happy to be here, happy to go out there and improve every day and let the chips fall where they may."

Drake, 25, is entering his fourth season. The third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft broke out during his sophomore campaign, piling up 883 yards. Drake was expected to have a big year in 2018, but saw a limited workload under former Dolphins coach Adam Gase.

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He finished the 2018 season with 1,012 yards and nine touchdowns, while Frank Gore handled the majority of the Dolphins' carries. Ballage was also impressive as a third option. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry during his rookie campaign, after the Dolphins picked him in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Now the second year back out of Arizona State is working to bite into Drake's workload and possibly be in the backfield to start Week 1. Ballage has frequently received reps with the first team early on at Dolphins camp.

"Well, he had a good spring," Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. "I know he was out there first but I don't really look at it that way. We've got a lot of good backs. We've got a lot of good players at a lot of positions, so guys will be moving."

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Flores -- a first year head coach -- said the order of running back reps could be based on what happened in previous drills. Dolphins running backs coach Eric Studesville and the offensive coaching staff are tasked with deciding which back plays in a respective grouping.

"We're just trying to get guys the amount of reps they need to evaluate them," Flores said. "So first team, second team, who goes first, who goes second, right now it's about their improvement, getting better with their fundamentals and technique and really getting them enough reps so that we can evaluate it. That's kind of my take on the first team, second team, etc."

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Flores said Ballage has done a "great job," but also said Drake has "worked hard." The former New England Patriots defensive guru also mentioned backs Chandler Cox, Myles Gaskin, Kenneth Farrow and Mark Walton as hard workers.

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Drake said he is down five pounds since last season in hopes of staying on the field more in 2019.

"My main goal is to understand what I've got to control, what I can do and help the guys in my room for sure, because with me being in my fourth season and the longest tenured running back on this team, I'm looked at to be a leader and every day that's what I'm trying to accomplish," Drake said.

Fantasy football outlook

Drake has a slightly smaller frame than Ballage, who is the favorite to be Miami's goal-line running back this season. That alone steals value from Drake as it hurts his touchdown ceiling. Drake is a low-end, matchup-dependent RB2 or flex play in 2019. He has slightly higher value in PPR formats. Ballage has more value in standard formats, but is a boom-or-bust play who will have you praying for a touchdown.

Neither player should be targeted early on in fantasy football drafts, as the Dolphins aren't expected to have a high-powered offense this season. Drake is a great backup option for your fantasy football squad in 2019.

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