Originally Published: January 12, 2018 2 p.m.
PHILADELPHIA — Jay Ajayi is rested, refreshed and ready.
The Philadelphia Eagles can jump aboard the Jay Train when they host Atlanta in an NFC divisional playoff Saturday and try to ride Ajayi to the conference title game.
Ajayi will see his first action in 19 days when he lines up against the Falcons (11-6). He sat out the final game before enjoying his third bye week of the season — one with Miami and two with Philadelphia (13-3).
“I feel really good, like, I feel really good,” said Ajayi, who has been bothered by knee issues. “No. 1 seed team with an opportunity to go get a Super Bowl. I’m grateful, I’m blessed, I’m excited for this opportunity because it’s all in front of us and if we really take advantage of what we want to do and execute how we can, we can get it done.”
Two weeks before he joined the Eagles, Ajayi ran for 130 yards in Miami’s 20-17 win over Atlanta on Oct. 15. He hasn’t carried the ball as much in Philadelphia, but he might have to be a workhorse this week.
“Same guys. My mentality hasn’t changed,” Ajayi said. “My mindset is always downhill, attacking, try to punish guys. One-on-one, it’s all about not being tackled.”
Ajayi was the main man in Miami, averaging 20 carries per game. He had 465 yards rushing, an average of 3.4 yards and no touchdowns. Last year, Ajayi went to the Pro Bowl after running for 1,272 yards, including three 200-yard games.
After coming to Philly, he adjusted to being part of a rotation. Ajayi shared the backfield with LeGarrette Blount and Corey Cement and didn’t get more than 15 carries in any game following the trade.
Ajayi finished with 408 yards rushing, one touchdown and an average of 5.8 yards per carry in seven games for the Eagles. Blount led the team with 766 yards rushing and Clement had 321.
The offense sputtered in the last two games with Nick Foles at quarterback. Relying on Ajayi’s running can help take pressure off Foles.
“I’m excited. I’m already a round further than I’ve been in my career,” said Ajayi, who had 33 yards rushing in a wild-card loss to Pittsburgh last year. “For the guys who’ve been to the playoffs and lost, those memories of getting bounced should definitely fuel you. You should have that chip, want to get there and want to bring it home and that starts this Saturday.”
The Eagles are the first No. 1 seed to be an underdog in their first playoff game. The sixth-seeded Falcons are 3-point favorites.
“It’s not insulting. That’s the story line right now,” Ajayi said . “Without 11 (Carson Wentz), we’re nothing basically. That’s what we’ve been hearing. We’re excited to come out Saturday and showcase what we can do.”
It’s starts with getting aboard the Jay Train. Ajayi loves the nickname that he earned at Boise State. He even wears a gold train pendant on his chain.
“The Jay Train is always out,” he said.