Damore’ea Stringfellow makes 99-yard impact in Dolphins debut

Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake carried the ball just four times in Thursday night’s preseason opener, but was panting in the fourth quarter.

That’s because Drake, who by that point was wearing a visor and watching from the sideline, chased teammate Damore’ea Stringfellow all the way to the end zone on Stringfellow’s 99-yard touchdown catch.

“It was very exhilarating, seeing my boy run down the field,” Drake said. “I didn’t even know he had that speed in him. He put it to an extra gear, so when he scored, everybody went down there and celebrated with him like we all scored a 99-yard touchdown. I ran 99 yards myself. I was tired after the play.”

Stringfellow produced the highlight of the Dolphins’ 23-20 home win against the Falcons with just less than nine minutes left when he raced 30 yards down the left side, grabbed David Fales’ pass over a defender, turned around a second defender with an inside-out move at midfield and sprinted for the score. He kept going, leaping into the stands before getting mobbed by teammates on the field.

“I was trying to stop, but I couldn’t, so I had to jump into the bleachers,” Stringfellow said. “I really didn’t know how to embrace the moment, but I met all my teammates in the end zone. It was a good feeling, for real.”

That play, along with a 17-yard catch in the third quarter, helped the 6-foot-2, 222-pound undrafted rookie from Ole Miss stand out like he hadn’t so far in training camp. A longshot to make a Dolphins roster that boasts many options at receiver, Stringfellow said he knew he needed to make an impression Thursday.

“Being a rookie, especially undrafted, you start at the bottom of the list,” he said. “Anything you do, everything you do, is under surveillance, so you’ve got to make sure you’re on the details and playing hard.”

Stringfellow, who transferred from Washington in 2014 following an assault charge stemming from a post-Super Bowl party fight, had 36 catches for 503 receiving yards and five touchdowns after sitting out a season per NCAA transfer rules, then posted career-bests in 2016 with 46 receptions for 716 yards and six touchdowns.

Stringfellow decided to forgo his senior year and declare early for the NFL Draft. Despite not being selected, he said there was “definitely no doubt at all” about his decision.

“Knowing I was supposed to be drafted, or feeling I was supposed to be drafted, put a bigger chip on my shoulder to come here and prove myself,” Stringfellow said.

Thursday, he got his chance, much to the delight of Dolphins offensive lineman and former Ole Miss teammate Laremy Tunsil.

“He kept asking me, ‘When you getting in? When you getting in?’ ” Stringfellow said. “As soon as I knew, I told him it was my time. He said, ‘Man, go and do your thing.’ ”

Noted safety Michael Thomas: “I was very excited for our young receivers. They went out and made some game-changing plays.”

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