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Relaxed Ajayi's focus fixed on special display

 

By Liam Blackburn

Jay Ajayi has spent the majority of this NFL season on an emotional rollercoaster, but he is confident of remaining calm in the Super Bowl spotlight.

The impression of Ajayi in Miami earlier this season was that he was overly emotional, a "hothead" as his then head coach Adam Gase described him shortly after a sideline outburst at Wembley in the city where he was born.

Soon after, the Dolphins traded him to the Philadelphia Eagles. They received just a fourth-round draft pick in return, which spoke volumes of their desire to offload one of their most talented players and a Pro Bowl pick the previous season.

Yet this week, ahead of his Super Bowl appearance with the Eagles, there has been no sulking or pouting. Ajayi has instead cut a calm, composed figure who appears at ease four months after having his world turned upside down.

"Right now I'm very calm, it's just another week," the 24-year-old said.

"You will get a little more anxious leading up to game time but to me it hasn't felt too big. I understand we've got one more job to do. My main focus is making sure I know the game plan and I'm ready to play on Sunday. The night before the game I know I'm just going to relax, keep my mind at ease, maybe watch something on Netflix or a movie, go to sleep and not be feeling too anxious or nervous."

Perhaps being jettisoned out of Miami was a wake-up call.

Ajayi, who left London for America aged seven, would not offer an opinion on Gase earlier this week but did concede the notion he was a problem in Miami was "disappointing" having been blind-sided by the trade.

"I got up to go to work and found out I was getting traded then found out where I was getting traded to," he explained. "There was a lot of emotion; a lot of stuff happening very quickly."

Ajayi's nature may not have been appreciated in Miami but to Philadelphia running backs coach Duce Staley, he is a coach's dream.

"He's very passionate, he's driven," he said.

"I love a player like Jay. He's going to bring that fight to you, you don't have to worry about bringing it to him."

If the Eagles beat the New England Patriots in Minneapolis at Super Bowl LII tomorrow, the Dolphins' decision to cut ties with their starting running back will have turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

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