January 10, 2018
Since arriving in Philly, by way of Miami, the Jay Train has been on a roll.
As we wrote last week, riding running back Jay Ajayi might be the best way for the Eagles to get to Minnesota for Super Bowl LII. And heading into their playoff opener against the Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs, there's reason to believe Doug Pederson and the rest of the Birds offense will board that train just in the nick of time.
And on Wednesday, the 24-year-old running back said there's plenty of room for everyone to hop on the Jay Train – and there's plenty left in the tank. After averaging nearly 20 carries per game with the Dolphins, Ajayi has just 70 carries total in seven games with the Eagles, but has amassed nearly as many yards thanks to his 5.8 YPA average in Philly.
Furthermore, he's had a bye week with each team (because of the timing of the deal) and in addition to having this past weekend off, Ajayi was inactive for the season finale against the Cowboys as the team looked to give him some additional rest, presumably to gear up for a heavy workload moving forward.
“I feel good," said Ajayi, who has dealt with chronic knee injuries throughout his career. "I’ve been working diligently with the training staff doing my usual routine of just making sure I feel fresh for the games. It’s been a long season, but I’m only hoping it’s longer than this and we just continue to move forward.
"I feel really good, like, I feel really good."
Ajayi, who wears a train pendant on the chain around his neck, was also asked about the origins of his nickname. As it turns out, Jay Train is less a name and more a state of mind.
"It started at Boise State. I was a redshirt sophomore and I was starting. I was just kind of looking for that alter-ego on the field to go to, that persona to take my game to the next level," Ajayi said, adding that his inspiration for an alter-ego came from seeing how Boise teammate DeMarcus Lawrence's sack celebration fired up the entire stadium. "And I'd seen a picture where someone photoshopped me onto a train and I thought it was kind of clever. So I stuck with the Jay Train celebration when I scored.
I'd get mad at my own mom if she was out there... You get in that ultra-competitive mode and you just want to do anything to succeed.
"It just kind of became my persona on the field where – I'm kind of a nice guy off the field, real chill. But when I'm on the field I turn into the Jay Train and become kind of violent, physical. You know, you can be violent on the field; it's legal a little bit, because it's football. That's kind of where I can go with that persona and use it to be physical, be a dog on the field. Just use all those emotions to run and make plays for the team."
It's almost like he's Bruce Banner transforming into the Hulk ... or, better yet, like a certain former Eagles safety turning into his alter-ego, Weapon X.
"I mean, I think certain guys are just like that. You've been seeing those videos we've been putting out this week with [Brian] Dawkins. Those videos are intense," Ajayi said. "You kind of see that Weapon X alter-ego in those videos. When you speak to B-Dawk around the building, he's cool, calm. That's not the guy you see in those videos. That guy, he'll take anyone's head off. It doesn't matter who it is. That's Weapon X in those videos.
"I think some guys, that's just how you try to get in your zone where everything is instinct and you're just out there playing football. For me, it's the Jay Train. And I use that and just go into an ultra-competitive mode and I'd get mad at my own mom if she was out there. It's just how I am, I guess. You get in that ultra-competitive mode and you just want to do anything to succeed."
In his brief stint in Philly – just seven games to this point – Ajayi has already noticed fans starting to embrace his alter-ego, but hopes in the future he kicks it up a notch by adding some in-stadium sound effects, like how they used to play a train whistle when he came out of the tunnel in Miami. [Note: He was very clear that he doesn't make his own train noises.]
On Saturday, Ajayi is hoping the fans can help bring some noise of their own.
"I just know if it’s going to be anything better than [my Eagles debut vs. Broncos] for this playoff game – because I know Philly, I know they’re going to show out – it’s going to be crazy," said Ajayi, who described his first game experience at the Linc as amazing. "It’s all about them giving us that little X-factor, being loud for us, especially when the defense is out there, causing a commotion, making it hard for the other team’s offense. Just helping bring us that energy. It’s going to be a fun one this Saturday.”
Ajayi has yet to carry the ball more than 15 times in a game for the Eagles. But no matter how many times he carries the ball against Atlanta – he put up a season-high 130 yards on the Falcons in Week 6, more than they allowed to any other RB this season – it's going to be full-steam ahead.
And the Jay Train will be ready.
"It's always out," Ajayi said with a laugh. "The Jay Train is always out."
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