That runs counter to the popular narrative that emerged when the Eagles acquired the shifty running back from the Saints for a fifth-round pick during the offseason. In his eight-year career, Sproles has been mostly known as a receiving threat out of the backfield. During five years in San Diego and three more in New Orleans, Sproles never carried the ball more than 93 times in a single season. His highest rushing total was 603 yards with the Saints in 2011.
In fairness, he was mostly a backup with the Chargers, and he was employed primarily as a pass catcher with the Saints. Since 2009, Sproles has had at least 45 receptions each year. His receiving numbers spiked with New Orleans, where he hauled in 188 passes over the last three years.
While the Eagles expect him to be a good receiver in the offense, Chip Kelly insisted that Sproles is a running back first and capable of carrying the ball when needed. Pat Shurmur echoed that sentiment this week before practice at the NovaCareComplex
“We’ve said it all along. Darren can play running back on first, second and third down,” the offensive coordinator said. “We always try to use our players in a way where we maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses, no matter what the situation.”
If there’s a concern about Sproles carrying the ball, it’s what kind of impact the increased workload might have on his body, the story said. He’s been a pretty durable player in his career, missing a total of just six games in eight years. This very well may have everything to do with Chris Polk struggling to get on the field and still not being 100-percent. It would make much more sense to keep Sproles in his receiving role and use another back like Polk - ideally - on early downs should McCoy ever miss time.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 12:05pm
Both could both land on the practice squad if they don’t last past final cuts, but there could be other teams willing to snatch them for their 53-man rosters. Josey has rushed 12 times for 104 yards in the preseason. He had a 70-yard, one-shoe TD jaunt brought back by a penalty. He’s swift and can also catch the ball out of the backfield (three catches for 39 yards and a TD). Both Tucker and Josey have looked willing and capable as blockers.
Both have LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Chris Polk and Kenjon Berner making the team. The biggest question right now is whether they are accurate about Polk, who has missed much of camp with a hamstring injury.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 8:52am
Coming out of last season, RB Chris Polk seemed to be a lock to make the Eagles' team this year. The third-year running back averaged 9.8 yards per carry last season, and had three touchdowns despite carrying the ball just 11 times.
Then, less than a week into training camp, Polk pulled his hamstring -- and now it sounds like Eagles' coaches hardly know their could-soon-be-former backup.
"Well, we do know him, but we sure would like to know him better," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said on Monday. "I think he's probably had one of the most lingering of injuries. So, yeah, it's important for him to get out and play."
The story added that Polk has been unable to play for the majority of the last three weeks, but returned to practice this past Sunday despite not feeling 100-percent. Polk has been on the field the past two days, which is a good sign of how his injured hamstring is holding up. However, it also means he could re-aggravate at just about any time.
Monday, August 25, 2014, 11:09am
With Josh Huff, Barner’s former college teammate, also banged up, there’s a chance Barner could work into the mix in the return game as well.
Barner returned punts and kicks in college but hasn’t done it regularly since his freshman year in Eugene. He did have a 22-yard kick return against the Steelers and a fair catch on a punt.
Polk's status is very much in question at this point. He looked to be a sure handcuff to McCoy and the team's RB3, but that continues to be up in the air heading into preseason Week 4.
Eagles RB Chris Polk is being pulled in two different directions as his third season in the NFL sits just two weeks away. On the one hand, Polk wants to be healthy for the start of the regular season – a season in which, at least a month ago, the expectation was that he would be the Eagles’ No. 3 running back. On the other hand, after missing about a month with a hamstring injury, Polk now needs to prove that he can be counted on when the season does begin.
“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” Polk said Saturday after returning to practice for the first time since suffering the injury. “You know, I can’t control (injuries), so I’m very optimistic. It could be a blessing in disguise. Maybe (the injury) gave me time to work on my shoulder and gave me time to work on other areas, whether it’s studying, getting stronger, faster, whatever. I’m definitely just taking positives out of everything. It just really slowed down and really put everything in perspective for me. Even though I’m not playing, I still watch every carry that every single running back we had (took during the preseason), and I try to envision myself what I would have done, so I wouldn’t fall behind. I’m here now.”
But after hearing head coach Chip Kelly say that the team is still trying to “find out who the third running back is going to be” following the Eagles’ third preseason game, Polk knows he has to do something.
Whoever is the third RB for the Eagles would likely see a big bump in touches if something were to happen to LeSean McCoy, since Darren Sproles isn't built for 15-20 touches per game.
Eagles RB Matthew Tucker was impressive against the first team Steelers D, scoring two TDs and bringing his total on the preseason to four, best in the NFL. Meanwhile, Henry Josey broke off a long run that was called back on a bogus penalty, and Kenjon Barner showed some promise after quickly assimilating into the Eagles offense. If the Eagles are worried that Chris Polk will always be an injury risk, it appears they may have other options.
Polk is nursing a torn hamstring, and may find himself out of a job if he doesn't heal quickly. The Eagles' RB3 job is important because the winner would likely see the biggest jump in touches if LeSean McCoy were to miss any time. Darren Sproles is not built for a heavy workload.
Against Pittsburgh, Eagles RB LeSean McCoy scored the game's first touchdown in the first quarter, but exited the game to have X-rays performed on his right thumb. They were negative. McCoy returned to the sideline, but his night was complete.
This is probably nothing to worry about, though it may take some time for the thumb to fully heal. At this point, Darren Sproles is the primary backup. Chris Polk is nursing a torn hamstring, but should be back soon.
Eagles RB Chris Polk hasn’t practiced in more than three weeks. He missed the first two preseason games and won’t play Thursday night in the third. He’s still not fully recovered from his hamstring injury.
It wasn’t a routine pull. He said he suffered a Grade 2 partial tear, the kind that keep guys -- running backs, especially -- sidelined for long periods of time. Polk hasn’t since been able to practice in any capacity. Last Thursday, hours before kickoff in New England, he jogged around the field in sweats and caught some balls to test his progress. He felt good, but not great.
He’s still not fully recovered and probably won’t be in the next few days, but Polk insisted that he’ll practice next week, whatever it takes. It’s risky, but he knows the NFL motto. Guys don’t make the club from the tub.
A Grade 2 tear typically takes four to six weeks, so Polk may return in one to three weeks depending on how quickly his muscle is healing. We believe that he would be the primary ballcarrier if LeSean McCoy were to miss time, but he has to get healthy and make the team first.
Barner played for Chip Kelly at Oregon, and was not going to contribute much in Carolina. It's a sign that the Eagles may be looking to shore up things behind Darren Sproles, since Chris Polk has been injured for much of camp.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 2:12pm
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, head coach Chip Kelly made it sound like that may have changed due to the running back missing over two weeks of practice with a hamstring injury.
"It's a big factor," Kelly said of Polk missing time. "You gotta be able to play. It's tough for us to say, we know what you can do, but you also have to go out on the field and show it."
Polk was expected to be LeSean McCoy's backup with Darren Sproles remaining as more of a receiver if McCoy would go down at any point this season. With Polk absent, backup running backs Matthew Tucker and Henry Josey have gained ground on him for the final spot. Tucker had two touchdowns against the Chicago Bears in the team's first preseason game, and Henry had an impressive touchdown catch against the New England Patriots last week.
Saturday, August 9, 2014, 11:36am
Undrafted Eagles rookie running back David Fluellen knows that you probably haven’t been paying too much attention to him thus far in Training Camp. It’s understandable, after all, with the likes of LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles in the backfield and young, talented players like Chris Polk and Matthew Tucker ahead on the depth chart.
But Fluellen did his best to introduce himself to Eagles fans Friday night, rushing for 25 yards on six carries, including a few bruising runs between the tackles, and diving in for his first NFL touchdown on a 14-yard screen pass.
“I think they got a glimpse of what I could do. I feel like I can still do more and I just have to show it next week,” Fluellen said. “It was a great experience. My first NFL game, I went out there and just played and had fun with it.”
Saturday, August 9, 2014, 9:29am
Eagles RB Matthews Tucker gained 55 total yards, 40 rushing on eight carries and 15 on a reception, and scored a pair of touchdowns. But he also coughed up the football in the third quarter that led to a Chicago touchdown, and left the game with a hamstring injury.
Tucker likely isn't going to be a fantasy factor with guys like LeSean McCoy, Chris Polk and Darren Sproles already ahead of him at the position.
Sunday, August 3, 2014, 6:53pm
While most of the Eaagles running backs worked separately from one on ones Sunday, Darren Sproles worked with the receivers.
Chris Polk is shaping up to get carries if something were to happen to LeSean McCoy, so Sproles looks like he's going to play a big role in the passing game. The question is how many balls will there be to go around. The Eagles run enough plays that in deeper PPR leagues, Sproles could have a role.
The Eagles avoided major injuries after three days of training camp, but they aren’t 100 percent injury-free.
Wide receiver Riley Cooper, running back Chris Polk and center Julian Vandervelde are missing practice Wednesday. Cooper is dealing with a foot injury, coach Chip Kelly said, while Polk is nursing a hamstring tweak and Vandervelde is sidelined with a sore back.
Kelly said none of the injuries is considered major and all could be back “shortly.” Of the three, only Cooper is a starter.
As the article states, the injury isn't considered to be "major," so Cooper should be back at practice soon.
With the addition of Darren Sproles and the emergence of Chris Polk, the Eagles have the luxury of reducing LeSean McCoy's touches in 2014 if they choose to do so. But the 26-year-old is in the prime of his career and head coach Chip Kelly isn't going to put any sort of strict limit on McCoy's workload.
"I don't know if there's a set number. Some guys can handle it, but our strength and conditioning staff and our athletic trainers do an unbelievable job of evaluating our players weekly," Kelly told SiriusXM NFL Radio. "There's times where I say, 'Hey, do we need to back off?' They're like, 'No, we can even go harder with him,' because all of our players are investing in themselves. They're getting the proper amount of sleep. They're eating the right way. They're doing what we've asked them to do. They understand it because they feel really good."
With the arrival of Sproles, we have to believe that McCoy's touches will decrease somewhat. We project McCoy for 336 touches, which represents an 8 percent drop from his 2013 totals (366).
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