PHILADELPHIA — Jay Ajayi wanted the Philadelphia Eagles to run the ball more and coach Doug Pederson agreed.
They’ll have to do it without their top running back.
The Eagles placed Ajayi on injured reserve Monday because of a knee injury. A person familiar with the situation says Ajayi tore an ACL and will miss the rest of the season. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team hasn’t announced the severity of the injury.
Ajayi had 29 yards rushing on eight carries and lost a fumble at the Vikings 5 in a 23-21 loss to Minnesota on Sunday. He was acquired by the Eagles from Miami at the trade deadline last season and helped the team win the Super Bowl.
"I love to run the football," Pederson said. "I think our guys are good at it, and we’ve been successful at it. But at the same time, we can’t get behind in football games because sometimes the running game won’t allow you to get back fast enough."
In a 26-23 overtime loss at Tennessee in Week 4, the Eagles called runs on only 24 per cent of the plays. Only 22 per cent of the plays against the Vikings were called runs.
"We’ve got to figure out how to start games faster, stay on the field longer, and generate points early in football games, because if you go back to our history, the times that we’ve had success as a football team, we’ve been able to do that," Pederson said. "We’ve been able to score on opening drives, get the lead early, which allows for your running game to really take over, play-action pass, all of that. That’s one of the ingredients that’s missing right now."
Ajayi, in the final season of his rookie contract, had 184 yards rushing, an average of 4.1 yards per carry and three touchdowns this season.
Darren Sproles has missed the past four games with a hamstring injury. Corey Clement hasn’t played in the last two because of a quadriceps injury. Wendell Smallwood has 150 yards rushing, an average of 6.0 yards per carry and one TD on the ground and one receiving. Rookie Josh Adams has seven carries.
The Eagles (2-3) visit the New York Giants (1-4) on Thursday night.