The clearest sign that running back Jay Ajayi has fallen from grace?
On Wednesday the Miami Dolphins practiced but starting running back Arian Foster did not participate while nursing a hamstring injury. So did the Dolphins give Ajayi the starter's reps in practice?
Ajayi, who was the team's starting running back throughout the offseason and even through much of training camp, has fallen so far that he was not the guy getting the starter's reps.
"He was not," offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said. "Those guys will compete. Pead got some snaps yesterday. They all got some snaps yesterday. I don't know what will shake out at the end of this week. A lot will depend on health and performance."
So here we are with Ajayi fighting Isaiah Pead and Damien Williams for snaps in a practice that Arian Foster doesn't participate. That's, I guess, what happens when you do something that gets you left behind on a season-opening road trip.
Christensen said not having Ajayi against the Seahawks "wasn't much of a factor."
Donald Butler, signed Tuesday, is "probably not" playing this week for the Dolphins, according to defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.
But the Dolphins have big plans for Butler once he gets the playbook down.
"Going forward we wanted somebody who could play linebacker," Joseph. "We didn't want to sign a backup linebacker for special teams. We wanted someone to play linebacker for us eventually. As he gets caught up in the playbook, he's going to help us. He's going to play actually "
Joseph said Butler will play the WILL linebacker spot (weakside). That's the position Jelani Jenkins plays. As Jenkins is nursing a knee issue after having surgery two weeks ago, his status for practices and even his snap count for games is something to monitor.
Joseph said Butler could back up at both weakside or in the middle.
The Dolphins face an interesting dilemma with defensive Cameron Wake.
On the one hand, they want to limit the veteran defensive end so as to make sure he stays healthy for the long season ahead. Wake, you'll recall, is coming back from an Achilles injury last year.
But on the other hand, Wake continues to be a force as a player, particularly as a pass rusher. So the team must weigh playing a good player in big moments versus keeping him on a tight snap count. Wake played 29 plays or 35 percent of the snaps.
Was there a temptation to play him more?
"Absolutely, absolutely," Joseph said. "Last week it was a little different. Losing Mario [Williams], Wake played more snaps than he should have played probably and at the end he was a little gassed ... If it's a critical point in the game, Cam's going to be out there. If the game's on the line, Cam's going to be out there."
The Dolphins don't necessarily want to play more. They actually want him to play less -- but only less snaps in base defense or on running downs.
I told you yesterday that center Anthony Steen has become a very pleasant surprise for the Miami Dolphins.
So how did he play against the Seahawks?
"The best compliment I could think about him is that I didn't notice him," Christensen said. "And then you watched the game and gosh, the kid played really, really well. But during the game the best compliment was that he was never a factor.
"There was a lot of [identifying the defense], a lot of pressure on him, as much as you can have with good players, hard place, new offense, all those things, not getting the starter snaps in the offseason and the kid played extremely well. He was really a bright spot for the day."
DeVante Parker (hamstring) practiced for the second consecutive day on Thursday and is expected to play on Sunday against New England, barring a setback the next couple of days.
Center Mike Pouncey (hip) and defensive end Mario Williams (concussion) did not practice on Thursday.