‘Speed demon’ Raheem Mostert is catching the wave in Miami Dolphins revamped offense


This time final yr, Raheem Mostert was on crutches, unable to stroll with out help.

A member of the San Francisco 49ers on the time, Mostert sustained a Week 1 knee cartilage harm in opposition to the Detroit Lions that was presupposed to sideline the working again for a number of weeks. Mostert, although, finally underwent season-ending surgical procedure and went on the arduous path of rehabilitation.

“First seven weeks post-surgery, I wasn’t able to walk,” Mostert stated. “And that took a lot out of me emotionally, because I’m a running back. I run fast. I run the ball. Everything is always being able to run and capitalize. For the first seven weeks, it was a challenge. And then having my family as well, just trying to take care of them and provide for them, it was all a mental block.

“But moving forward, I was just thinking about the outcome, how sweet it would be to be back on the field and participate in team activities and all the little things that come with it in order for me to get to the regular season.”

Mostert, 30, not solely returned for the beginning of the 2022 season however in current weeks he’s successfully assumed the function of lead again for the Dolphins (4-3), who will face the Lions (1-5) on the highway Sunday. In a Week 5 loss to the New York Jets, Mostert ran for 113 yards, his most since a 220-yard efficiency within the 2019 NFC Championship Game.

Though Mostert continues to be working his manner again after primarily one yr away from the sport, teammates and coaches say he’s already resembling the working again who’s arguably the quickest participant within the NFL.

“Raheem is a speed demon,” stated fullback Alec Ingold, “and it’s just so smooth when you watch him work, week in week out, day in, day out.”

Miami Dolphins working again Raheem Mostert (31) celebrates with teammates after scoring within the first quarter in opposition to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Sunday, October 23, 2022. Al Diaz [email protected]

In the Dolphins’ Week 7 dwelling win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mostert scored Miami’s lone landing, off an 8-yard catch on the opening drive. Once he reached the tip zone, Mostert dove belly-first onto the bottom, making a swimming movement along with his arms and leaping onto his ft as if he was driving a surfboard.

The landing celebration is a nod to Mostert’s roots rising up in New Smyrna Beach, which is situated on the central east coast of Florida, about 50 miles northeast of Orlando. Mostert surfboarded in one of many high surf cities within the nation, dubbed the “shark-bite capital of the world.”

“I didn’t have a stable lifestyle,” he stated. “My parents, I couldn’t count on them at times but I grew up in a place where you’ve just got to work hard.” As a teen, Mostert not solely surfboarded but additionally performed soccer and ran observe.

“I love it because it gets me away from everything,” he stated of surfboarding. “I’m on the ocean, just me by myself and me with a couple buddies, just trying to learn little techniques. I’m trying to pick up things that they’re doing. And just being one with the ocean, I think that was very appealing to me the most.”

Mostert and Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel stated they see similarities in surfboarding and taking part in working again.

“We say, ‘press every run one gap at a time,’ and it’s kind of like riding a wave — surfing,” McDaniel stated. “Because you’re taking it right there and then all of a sudden you go downhill, but then the wave takes you back out.”

One day, Mostert was approached by an agent from Billabong, a browsing attire firm, with a sponsorship provide. But taking part in in waves was only a pastime; his passions had been observe and soccer — sports activities the place he was a standout at New Smyrna Beach High School. Mostert gained district titles as a hurdler and sprinter, and he was additionally a dynamic broad receiver and kick returner.

Mostert dedicated to Purdue University, drawn to the varsity after a go to with former NFL security Ricardo Allen, who’s a Boilermaker and from close by Daytona Beach. Allen now works as a particular groups assistant with the Dolphins.

At Purdue, Mostert discovered a task as a return specialist earlier than transferring to working again as a junior. He additionally gained Big Ten titles as a sprinter within the 60-meter, 100-meter and 200-meter races. He turned the primary member of his household to graduate faculty.

Mostert wasn’t chosen within the 2015 NFL Draft. He spent the following few years bouncing from crew to crew, primarily as a returner. He had quick stints with a half-dozen groups, together with the Dolphins — proper when present Lions coach Dan Campbell was named interim coach in Miami — earlier than he caught on with the 49ers in 2016. Mostert spent the following 5 seasons in San Francisco alongside McDaniel, who served as run recreation coordinator earlier than being elevated to offensive coordinator.

Frequent accidents restricted his function. But when he was wholesome, Mostert was one of the vital environment friendly and explosive backs within the league. He ran for a career-high 772 yards in 2019 for a 49ers crew that superior to the Super Bowl. Mostert’s 5.39 yards per rush common is probably the most in NFL historical past amongst working backs with 250 profession makes an attempt.

“It was just the time aspect, and me knowing that my time was coming,” Mostert stated. “Whether I believed it or not, I believed wholeheartedly that I deserved to be in the league and I deserved to play and I am going to be an NFL running back and I was going to do great things. I’ve always wanted to chase a gold jacket. I guess that also helped me. But my wife, she helped me. She’s an individual that is very strong-minded and strong-willed, so credit to her, she helped me through a lot of things.”

Though Mostert’s yearlong absence final season meant he solely performed in 9 video games the final two years, he signed a one-year, $2 million take care of the Dolphins within the opening week of free company. The proven fact that cornerback Xavien Howard underwent the same knee process gave Mostert the arrogance he would be capable to return to his pre-injury kind.

And regardless of the severity of the harm — in a July tweet, Mostert stated he was instructed he “may never step on the field again” — he was cleared to observe in coaching camp.

Miami Dolphins working again Raheem Mostert (31) waits to talk with reporters after observe at Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens on Wednesday, August 17, 2022. Al Diaz [email protected]

The Dolphins had been anticipated to divvy the workload within the backfield after additionally signing Chase Edmonds. But with Mostert’s familiarity with the surface zone scheme and arduous working, he has taken nearly all of the snaps within the backfield just lately. Mostert leads the crew with 388 dashing yards and has been the first kick returner.

The Dolphins’ revamped offense has but to actually take off — and that features a working recreation that ranks twenty ninth in yards per recreation. Part of the important thing to unlocking their potential lies in Mostert persevering with to really feel like his previous self. And that will imply attending to showcase his observe velocity within the open subject. Mostert’s high velocity of twenty-two.73 miles per hour in 2020 stays the quickest for a ball service since 2018.

“I’m at like 20 miles per hour,” Mostert stated of his high velocity in a recreation this season. “I’ve been finessing and finagling my way through the line and trying to break something.”

Daniel Oyefusi covers the Dolphins for the Miami Herald. A local of Towson, Maryland, he graduated from the University of Maryland: College Park. Previously, he coated the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun.


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