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Miami Dolphins scrimmage primer: Important night for couple of players

The Miami Dolphins will conduct a scrimmage at Florida International University tonight at approximately 7. You should keep up with the action in real-time by following me on twitter.

And two players I'm going to be closely watching are rookie running back Jay Ajayi and veteran defensive tackle C.J. Mosley. (Yes, yes, yes, I'll be watching the always issue-laden offensive line as well, so don't get your eyebrows in a wrinkle).

The reason I'll be watching Ajayi and Mosley is, frankly, I haven't seen much of what I expected from these two players so far.

Ajayi came to the Dolphins in the last draft with the promise of being a physical, hard-knocking, capable pass protector who offers a bigger alternative to what the Dolphins have on the roster.

But then training camp started.

And I haven't seen the 6-foot, 220-pound running back resemble anything like the battering ram I expected to see. He's not soft. But he's not John Riggins, either, at this point.

I also haven't seen him do great work in blitz pickup. He sometimes gets it right. He often does not.

In my eyes, second-team running back Damien Williams has been the most physical back in training camp so far. (LaMichael James has been the most elusive and quick. Lamar Miller has been the best combination of all the above).

Meanwhile, we know Williams can catch the football and pass protect.

So where does that leave Ajayi?

Well, he's on the team. Somewhere. His potential and draft status pretty much grandfathers him in somewhere. I don't think there's much doubt about that. But active on game days? A factor of any significance?

Not at this point.

The only way Ajayi changes that is to start showing he can run over some people, especially on short-yardage and goal line situations, and also can be a brick wall of sorts in pass protection. In other words, the man has got to get physical.

Training camp is not always the greatest venue for showing off  such a physical nature. They do not go full speed here. They do not tackle. They do not try to hurt each other.

The scrimmage may allow for a little more of that contact and the preseason that follows a little more still.

Ajayi has to use the increase in physical contact to distinguish himself. He's running third and often fourth team so far. That's not good enough, especially when the team will likely go to games with  only three running backs active.  

Mosley, 6-2 and 315 pounds, came to the Dolphins late in free agency, a veteran of 10 NFL seasons. He comes with experience. He comes as not only depth but physical, savvy depth. He's supposed to be a DT snaps eater -- meaning, he can eat up snaps and be a presence while folks like either Ndamukong Suh or Earl Mitchell get a breather.

Except he is languishing on the third team for the Dolphins the first two weeks of training camp. He hasn't stood out to me in the least -- against third-team offensive players. Against lower-tier players and camp bodies, Mosley should be dominating. He's not.

And because camp practices limit the amount of actual hitting done at the line of scrimmage, Mosley's physical nature hasn't shown up in any eye-popping way.

So has the physical nature not shown up because he doesn't have it anymore at age 32? Or has it been lacking because practices prohibit Mosley from showing his abilities?

This scrimmage will be the first opportunity, albeit limited, for Mosley to catch someone's attention. He has to do that in the next few weeks, including preseason games because a 10-year veteran on third team is a message that younger, cheaper players are winning the competition.

Coach Joe Philbin was asked Thursday if he expects Mosley to be on the team.

“We’ll see," he said. "We’ll see what happens."

That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement to me.