Cal Football: Ex-Cal Star Patrick Laird Has a Big NFL Moment Sunday
Patrick Laird, Cal's starting running back in 2017 and 2018, had a big day in the NFL on Sunday.
He scored the game-winning touchdown in the Miami Dolphins’ 37-31 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, and he may become the Dolphins’ starting running back for the final four games.
Not bad for a rookie who signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent, was the fifth-string running back in the spring and is known as “The Intern” to coaches.
The Dolphins trailed by two points before Laird scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with 11:06 left in the game, then caught a two-point conversion pass to give Miami a 34-28 lead.
It was his first NFL touchdown.
“Felt awesome,” Laird told Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post.
Laird earned the nickname of The Intern back in spring training. According to the Palm Beach Post story, Laird was joined by some operations interns for a late meal. Laird engaged them in conversation, asking where they went to school and what interests they had.
After a while, one intern asked: “So what do you do here?”
At 6 feet, 205 pounds, Laird does not give the impression he is an NFL running back. He had similar issues at Cal, where he was a walk-on who was once the Bears’ seventh-string running back. He eventually rushed for 1,127 yards in 2017 and 961 yards in 2018 for the Bears.
“What I learned at Cal, and it’s getting cliche, but stick to your process,” Laird said, according to the Post. “Stick to your routine. And so when you do get an opportunity you’re ready to go.”
Back in the spring, Kenyan Drake had yet to be traded, Mark Walton had not been waived, Myles Gaskin was still ahead of him on the depth chart. When Kalen Ballage was injured on Sunday, Laird became the Dolphins’ running back.
His numbers Sunday certainly did not overwhelm anyone. He carried 10 times for just 5 yards, but he also caught four passes for 43 yards, not including his two-point conversion reception.
“He did a great job and made a few guys miss on some shorter throws,” Ryan Fitzpatrick said in the Post story. “I think he was a guy that is slowly showing us that we can really rely on him in doing the different things that he does well. He caught a couple screens today and had some nice run after catches. I was proud of the way that Patrick played today.”
Laird has the ball he carried to his first NFL touchdown, and he did it on the birthday of his girlfriend, Bryce.
“We’re going to celebrate,” Laird said, according to the Post.
The photo below of Laird's TD celebration harkens back to the Patrick Laird Summer Reading Challenge he developed while at Cal.
For the season Laird has 145 yards from scrimmage on 28 touches (36 rushing yards on 16 carries; 109 receiving yards on 12 catches). Of that, 94 receiving yards and 32 rushing yards have come in the past three weeks.