Fins OC confident offense can lean on Kalen Ballage

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After trading Kenyan Drake and watching Mark Walton get hit with a four-game suspension, the Miami Dolphins are down to one running back who has played an offensive snap this season: Kalen Ballage.

The second-year running back opened the season as the Dolphins starter but had seen his snaps usurped by Walton. After getting 19-plus snaps the first three weeks, Ballage saw five or fewer the next three campaigns, per Next Gen Stats. It wasn't until Drake was out the door that his usage returned, but even then, Ballage was stuck well behind Walton (18 snaps to 48).

With Walton's suspension landing, Ballage appears set to see his role expand the next several weeks.

"He's somebody that I've spoken about throughout the years, someone I have a tremendous amount of confidence in and I look forward to having him having an increased opportunity, and I think this is it," offensive coordinator Chad O'Shea said Tuesday, via the team's official website. "He's going to get a chance to go out there with Mark's suspension and he's going to have a great opportunity.

"And I know he's done some things in his preparation and in practice that we have confidence that he's going to make the most out of his opportunity. He's worked extremely hard. He's been very focused through times of maybe not as many opportunities as he saw himself having at this point thus far, but now he's going to have the opportunity. Hopefully his hard work and all his preparation will really result into being the player that he wants to be."

Ballage has been ineffective in short bursts this season, averaging 2.0 yards per carry on 35 attempts and catching just four of 12 targets.

Behind Ballage, the Dolphins will roll with Patrick Laird, who has been active but only played on special teams thus far. Seventh-round rookie Myles Gaskin should be active for the first time this season in the thinned-out backfield. The former Washington Husky had a prolific college career and could get a chance to leap Laird on the depth chart, especially if he proves to be a better pass-catcher out of the backfield than Ballage.

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