During the first half of the 2019 season, Jay Ajayi spent his Sundays in Southern California, keeping his mind occupied.
As the NFL’s slate of games kicked off every Sunday afternoon, Ajayi would train.
“To be honest,” Ajayi said on Tuesday, “I really didn’t try to watch too much football because I knew just my competitiveness, I knew it would kind of get me upset that I wasn’t playing yet.”
While he didn’t play against the Patriots on Sunday, just two days after signing back with the Eagles, Ajayi’s schedule is now full for most of the remaining Sundays in the 2019 NFL season.
And after an ACL tear ended his 2018 contract year early, Ajayi is looking forward to showing the rest of the NFL that the JayTrain still has it.
Ajayi, 26, on Tuesday confirmed that his contract with the Eagles includes a “right of first refusal,” which could potentially keep him in Philadelphia past the 2019 season. But the former Pro Bowler on Tuesday claimed that, for now, he is just trying to worry about showcasing his talent for at least the next six games.
“I think it’s just an exciting prospect for me to just get back onto the field,” Ajayi said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve played football, in my mind, so I’m just excited to get back out there and just showcase who I am and what the JayTrain can do.”
That’s right … Ajayi pulled into the station with a third person reference to his nickname before getting on the practice field. But that’s a good sign; Ajayi has always been a confident player and it seems like that confidence is back.
Ajayi tore his ACL on Oct. 7, 2018, ending his contract season prematurely and ruining any hope he might have had about finally signing a significant deal as a free agent. Because Ajayi was a fifth-round pick and because of his long-term knee issues, it seems unlikely he’ll ever really cash in as an NFL player.
On Tuesday afternoon, Ajayi said he didn’t know how many more years he wants to play football.
“I just take it every day at a time,” he said. “Not really looking too far into the future. I just count my blessings every time I step on the field.”
After the injury last year, Ajayi began the long process of rehabbing. He did his rehab in El Segundo, California, and wasn’t cleared until late August or early September. And he didn’t really start to feel like himself again in October, which is when he began to prepare for re-entry into the NFL.
Ajayi got a call from his agent last Thursday, the day after Darren Sproles suffered a season-ending injury, telling Ajayi to get to Philly for a workout. He worked out and took a physical on Friday before signing a contract. He said he would have been able to play on Sunday, but it was a coach’s decision to not get him on the field.
That should change this Sunday in South Philly against the Seahawks. His role will likely depend on the health of Jordan Howard.
But either way, he won’t have to avoid football on Sundays anymore. He’s back and Ajayi has six games to prove he’s still got it.
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