Miami Dolphins: Undrafted rookie Salvon Ahmed gives running game big boost in win over Chargers
MIAMI GARDENS — Salvon Ahmed wasn’t about to show any satisfaction Sunday after the biggest moment of his young professional career. After all, that would not be the way things are done under coach Brian Flores.
The Miami Dolphins’ rookie running back had just rushed for 85 yards and his first career touchdown in his first professional start, helping the Dolphins to a 29-21 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers at Hard Rock Stadium. Yet, it was hard to elicit any praise for the undrafted rookie.
“We just treat it like a regular week, that’s what it is,” Ahmed said when asked what it was like when he realized his role would be expanded. “Just be ready for anything. That’s how we attack every week, just being ready, every running back in that room knowing we got to step up.”
OK, so what has been working personally that has put you in this position to succeed?
“Just practicing hard and asking questions,” he said. “Not being too proud to ask questions. There’s a lot of older guys in that room, a lot of guys on this team that want to help especially young guys like me, first year. This team is a family so I just ask a lot of questions and attack practice the best I can."
We’ll move over to Flores. The coach is not one to hand out praise so it was not surprising he, too, would not single out Ahmed.
“He went out there and performed well,” Flores said. “He ran the ball effectively. We left some yards out there, also. It wasn’t perfect. We’ll make the corrections.”
But, coach, what about that speed from the 5-foot-11, 197-pound sparkplug?
“He has some speed but if nobody blocks for you, you’re not going to be able to get around the edge,” Flores said. “His runs are, they are … he had a lot of guys blocking for him, so...”
One of those guys was center Ted Karras, and it was Karras who finally threw some praise Ahmed’s way.
“Just taking advantage of his opportunities,” Karras said. “That’s something in this league, they’re rare and usually only come around once, and he’s been doing such a great job and was a huge impact player for us today. Really hit the hole nice and we had some big runs.”
That was the extent of the praise for a young player who certainly will remember the first big moment of his career, even if he was downplaying it following the game. Well, almost.
Ahmed also got a mention from the most famous member of the Dolphins’ rookie class.
“Big shoutout to Salvon Ahmed for stepping up when his number was called,” quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said.
With a backfield suddenly depleted, Ahmed not only was forced into action Sunday, he became Miami’s featured back. With injures to Myles Gaskin and Matt Breida, Ahmed started. He carried the ball 21 times — the rest of the running backs had five carries combined — and the first time he touched it resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run giving the Dolphins a quick early lead they never surrendered. The drive started at the 1 after Miami blocked a punt on the Chargers' first series of the game.
“To go out there and start the game on the 1-yard line is very rare, and important for the team,” Karras said.
Ahmed was an unknown entering the game. After leaving the University of Washington early and going undrafted, he signed with the 49ers, who cut him about midway through training camp. The Dolphins swooped in, signing Ahmed and stuck him on the practice squad. Ahmed was promoted to the active roster in October and made his debut last week against Arizona.
The Dolphins got a glimpse of what Ahmed is capable of in the win over the Cardinals, when he led the team in rushing with 38 yards on seven carries.
With Gaskin on injured reserve (Gaskin and Ahmed were teammates at Washington) and Breida dealing with hamstring issues, this could be Ahmed’s gig for a while. And that may not be so bad considering he anchored a running game that had 111 yards, a modest total but the second-most for Miami this year. The Dolphins entered the game averaging 97.1 rushing yards per game, 28th in the league.
“That’s something that we’ve been working towards for weeks now,” Karras said about getting more production out of the running game. “And it feels good to have some of our hard work pay off there with a guy like that coming in and making an impact.”