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Eagles ready to ride 'Jay Train' to playoff win Saturday

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PHILADELPHIA — Now that the “Wentz Wagon” is up on blocks, the Eagles are searching for another mode of transportation for the ride through the playoffs.

The “Foles Ferry” looked promising, but lately has shown all the buoyancy of the SS Atlantus, the concrete ship that’s been sitting off Sunset Beach in Cape May Point since 1926.

It looks like they’ll be boarding the “Jay Train” for Saturday’s NFC divisional-round game against Atlanta and Lincoln Financial Field.

Foles will need to play well against the Falcons for the Eagles to earn their first playoff victory since 2008, but their offense may be geared toward running back Jay Ajayi and the rest of the backfield.

“Everyone can come aboard,” Ajayi said Wednesday. “We’ve got as many seats as you need. We’ve got first class (seats), everything. We’ve got it all.”

Ajayi adopted the nickname during his college career at Boise State University, when someone Photoshopped a picture on social media that portrayed him like a train because of his running style.

The 6-foot, 223-pounder runs downhill and aggressively. There aren’t many head fakes or spin moves in his repertoire.

“I stuck with ‘Jay Train’ because it kind of fits my persona on the field,” said Ajayi, who even wears a train charm on a necklace. “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.

“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.”

He’s made plays against the Falcons already this season.

Before the Eagles acquired him in a trade with Miami on Oct. 31, Ajayi rushed for 130 yards on 26 carries against Atlanta on Oct. 15.

“It’s helpful from the standpoint of the success that he had and to be able to look at the types of runs he had that game,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Thursday. “We know it’s different circumstances and all that, but it helps.”

Since joining the Eagles, Ajayi has been part of a rotation that also features LeGarrette Blount and rookie Corey Clement.

Ajayi has gained 408 of his 872 total rushing yards this season while wearing an Eagles’ jersey. He’s gotten 70 carries (5.8 yards per carry) with one touchdown and also has 10 receptions for 91 yards and a TD.

Blount leads the Eagles with 766 yards on 173 carries (4.4 yard per carry) and has two TDs. Clement, an undrafted free agent from nearby Glassboro, has a team-leading four rushing TDs while gaining 321 yards on 74 attempts (4.3).

No Eagles back has gotten more than 16 carries in a game. Blount had 136 yards — the Eagles’ only 100-yard rushing game this season — on 16 attempts at the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 1. Ajayi’s top workload with the Eagles was 15 carries for 78 yards at the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 10.

That could change in the playoffs.

Ajayi sat out the regular-season finale against Dallas to rest his knees and appears poised to have a much bigger role against the Falcons.

“I’ve taken many carries before in my career, so it’s not something I’m not used to,” Ajayi said. “I’m excited for this opportunity.”

Local connections

Although the vast majority of fans at the Linc will be pulling for Ajayi and the Eagles Saturday, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan will have a few supporters.

Ryan grew up just outside of Philadelphia and played high school football at William Penn Charter School. His family has a summer home in North Wildwood.

This will be his fifth time playing against the Eagles at the Linc since joining the Falcons as their first-round draft pick in 2008.

“I’m used to it now,” Ryan said during Wednesday’s livestreamed press conference at the Falcons’ practice facility in Georgia. “The one nice part is getting a chance to see a lot of family and friends after the game.”

After the season, Ryan will make his annual visit to the shore.

What was originally a cottage owned by Ryan’s grandfather, Sam Loughery, is now a three-story home on Ocean Avenue in North Wildwood.

“I always try to take advantage of the opportunity to get back (to North Wildwood) and spend some time,” Ryan said. “But I’m pretty low key, so I try to slide in and out under the radar.”

Atlanta defensive tackle Jack Crawford, a St. Augustine Prep graduate, owns a home in the Seaview Harbor section of Egg Harbor Township. Crawford is on the Falcons’ injured reserve list after suffering a torn biceps in October.

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Contact: 609-272-7201

Twitter @PressACWeinberg

Member of The Press sports staff since 1986, starting my 25th season as The Press Eagles' beat writer. Also cover boxing, MMA, golf, high school sports and everything else.

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