Jay Ajayi looks like he could play a big role in Miami's backfield down the road. Steve Mitchell USA TODAY Sports

Sunday's loss for the Miami Dolphins may have sunk their playoff hopes, but it didn't come without a glimmer of hope.

Rookie running back Jay Ajayi made his long-awaited NFL debut against the Buffalo Bills, and he showed a great deal of potential in the loss. Although he only carried the ball five times, Ajayi racked up 41 yards rushing, good for an average of eight yards per carry.

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He consistently made smart cuts at the line of scrimmage and broke tackles at the second level, something he did with a great deal of success at Boise State. Ajayi was seen as a second-round talent early in the draft process, but concerns over the long-term health of his knee caused his draft stock to plummet. The Dolphins scooped him up in the fifth round and he could prove to be a steal of the draft.

Additionally, his health and productivity for the remainder of the season could play a role in how the Dolphins handle Lamar Miller's contract situation. Miller is set to become a free agent after this season, and if the Dolphins choose to let him walk, Ajayi could be his replacement in 2016 and beyond. He's sure to be a cheaper option, so his play in the coming weeks will be important.