Myles Gaskin was supposed to be the third-string running back when the Miami Dolphins showed up for their season opener last Sunday. He left that role behind as if he had deftly sidestepped a grasping-at-air tackler.
Instead, Gaskin did what fictional South Beach detectives Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs used to do. He made the good people of South Beach turn and stare at what he was wearing that day.
It wasn't a dazzling neon T-shirt or some stylish white coat and pants ensemble — he had the look of a No. 1 rusher.
Gaskin, the little guy from the University of Washington and the Huskies' all-time leading ground-gainer with 5,232 yards, kept all of the Dolphins big-name backs on the sideline for much of the game at New England. He ran 9 times for 40 yards and caught 4 passes for 26 more yards.
His big reveal against the Patriots was this: among the Miami running backs, Gaskin received 39 snaps in Week 1 compared to Matt Breida's 14, Chandler Cox's 11, Jordan Howard's 9 and Patrick Laird's 4.
"Just going into every game, I'm just ready to go," Gaskin said of his extended playing time. "It just kind of happened."
OK, will the Dolphins start him on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills in their home opener?
At this point, Miami lists Howard, a former Indiana University runner and a four-year NFL veteran, at its starting tailback, with Gaskin at No. 2.
Breida, from Georgia Southern and formerly the starter, has dropped down to the third-teamer with Laird, who's from California.
Dolphins coach Brian Flores appears to have taken a liking to Gaskin and the second-year back's work ethic. The Miami leader has seen great improvement from the former Husky through OTAs (organized team activities) to mini-camp to training camp.
"He's as kid who's really improved over the course of last season in his running and his receiving, and his blocking has improved," Flores said. "You can see the growth."
Gaskin confirmed as much after the opener. He said he's been listening intently to Flores and running backs coach Eric Studesville and doing whatever they ask of him.
"I'm just working hard, listening to Coach E and Coach Flo and what they wanted out of me during the offseason," Gaskin said. "I'm trying to go back to the basics and working hard."
Still, he's been a big surprise to those who follow the Miami NFL franchise as closely, and that includes AllDolphins' publisher Alain Poupart who's in the Sports Illustrated site network.
"I've actually been surprised by Gaskin because I didn't necessarily see anything special about him last year," Poupart said. "But he definitely looks like he's got a different speed this season."
The Dolphins will host Buffalo on Sunday afternoon. Don't be surprised if Gaskin draws a lot of snaps again. Or even if he starts. He's got eight NFL games under his belt. He's just getting going.
"I'm always kind of confident in football," he said. "I've played it all my life."
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