Whatever the hour, Miami Dolphins rookie RB Salvon Ahmed eager to take off running
Salvon Ahmed was two years behind Myles Gaskin, his roommate and fellow running back at the University of Washington. Until a week ago, he was behind Gaskin on the Dolphins’ depth chart. Now that Gaskin is on injured reserve and Ahmed has his chance, you could say he’s coming out of Gaskin’s shadow.
And you’d be right in more ways than one.
Ahmed and Gaskin had a friendly rivalry and debate going over who was fastest that began during their high school days and needed to be decided, once and for all, one evening.
Ahmed took a moment Thursday to explain his midnight run: “There was a night we both were going back and forth, because in high school he had beat me in the 4×100 (meter relay). It came down to inches and he had beat me. I was 15 years old, and he was a senior at the time. We were just talking about that. It was late. We were like, ‘All right, let’s just go race.’ ”
Perfectly logical thing to do, slipping onto the field in the darkness at nearby Blanchet High.
“We had raced a couple of times,” said Ahmed, whose name is pronounced suh-VON OCK-med. “I had got him on the first two and then he got me on the last three. I think it came down to a conditioning thing.”
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The Dolphins traditionally don’t make players on injured reserve available to the media, so whether Gaskin has different version of the results will have to wait for another day.
What cannot wait is the need the Dolphins have at running back. Veteran Matt Breida is the logical contender to fill in for Gaskin, but he was out last week with a hamstring problem. He has practiced, but only on a limited basis this week.
Ahmed, meanwhile, took advantage of the opportunity last week at Arizona by leading the Dolphins in rushing with seven carries for 38 yards (a 5.4 average). Included was a 19-yard run that set up Tua Tagovailoa’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Preston Williams.
Much about what you need to know about how Ahmed is approaching his chance is contained in what was going through his mind during his big gain.
“I was running at Patrick Peterson and I was like, ‘Oh, man, that’s Pat P.,’ ” Ahmed said. “So that was kind of cool.”
Being on the field at all, he said, also was cool. Ahmed was an undrafted free agent who left school a year early believing he was ready for pro football and a game like last week’s 34-31 win.
“It’s definitely a childhood dream to be a part of that,” Ahmed said. “It was a big-time game and a big win for our organization.”
Nobody is calling it a breakout game for Ahmed, least of all coach Brian Flores, who’s never one to gush.
“I thought he ran well,” Flores said. “He’s got some juice. That was pretty good for his first time out. There is a protection play that stands out for me that I thought could’ve been better. I don’t know if anyone else saw that one.”
The juice Flores referred to was a 4.43 Ahmed ran in the 40 at Washington, a shade faster than Gaskin’s 4.44. But at the NFL Combine, Gaskin had the edge, 4.58 to 4.62.
“He’s a really coachable back,” veteran offensive lineman Jesse Davis said. “He’s a quick, really fast guy especially out of the backfield. That’s what kind of helps our offense move, is those faster guys that can hit the hole and be gone. I’m excited to see him develop more. Obviously, Gaskin really developed, and I feel like that’s a similar type of running back.”
Ahmed, who’s 5-feet-11 and 197 pounds, said he watches all of Gaskin’s runs for tips, including the value of patience. He peppers the veteran backs with questions.
“I’m not too prideful at all to ask those questions,” he said.
Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey agreed Ahmed is far from a finished product. But last Sunday was a start.
“He does show some explosion,” Gailey said. “It was good to have that and be able to see a short run turn into a longer run with that burst that he has, to be able to get on the edge. I think he’ll improve."