Friday, October 2, 2015, 6:45pm
Eagles RB DeMarco Murray (hamstring, questionable) took full practice reps again Friday and is questionable for Week 4. Murray’s full participation is a good sign, but the Eagles may err on the side of caution since they have a very good backup in Ryan Mathews. Murray was reportedly “coy” about his Week 4 availability. The Eagles play early on Sunday.
Thursday, October 1, 2015, 7:11pm
Eagles RB DeMarco Murray (hamstring) took full practice reps Thursday after being limited Wednesday. Murray’s full participation is a good sign, but the Eagles may err on the side of caution since they have a very good backup in Ryan Mathews. Murray was reportedly “coy” about his Week 4 availability.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 6:25pm
Eagles RB DeMarco Murray (hamstring) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Murray’s participation in Wednesday’s practice is a good sign, but the Eagles may err on the side of caution since they have a very good backup in Ryan Mathews.
Now it's time to figure out if he will remain in the lead role, or go back to being a part of DeMarco Murray's supporting cast.
"I have no idea," Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said Monday. "That's not a concern for any of us."
Mathews rushed for 108 yards on 25 carries in the team's win Sunday over the New York Jets, taking over Murray's job while the starting running back was on the sideline due to a hamstring injury.
"We ran the ball a little bit more," Kelly said. "That was what we were trying to do against (the Jets)."
The story went on to say Mathews looks far more decisive with his reads and cuts than Murray has this season. The backup-turned-starter also looked quicker getting to the edge. Which is why based on the stat sheet, and to anyone watching the game, it would be easy to draw the conclusion that Mathews might be a better fit for the Eagles' offense than Murray, the running back they paid $40 million to this offseason. Kelly denied that Murray isn't a good fit but his hamstring issue will be a question heading into Week 4.
Friday, September 25, 2015, 7:02pm
Eagles RB DeMarco Murray (hamstring, questionable) returned to take full practice reps Friday after missing practice Thursday and is questionable for Week 3. Ashley Fox of ESPN reported that Murray is expected to play in Week 3. Murray injured the hamstring in Wednesday's practice. Remember, this was one of the concerns with Murray coming into the season. Running backs don't usually hold up the season following a massive workload, but there was some optimism since he's playing for Chip Kelly, who is known to have a great training staff. If Murray can't play in Week 3, Ryan Mathews is a good bet for 12-15 touches as the Eagles' RB1, but the role of Darren Sproles would expand as well. The Eagles play early on Sunday.
Thursday, September 24, 2015, 6:16pm
Eagles RB DeMarco Murray (hamstring) missed practice Thursday after taking limited reps Wednesday. Murray injured the hamstring in Wednesday's practice. Remember, this was one of the concerns with Murray coming into the season. Running backs don't usually hold up the season following a massive workload, but there was some optimism since he's playing for Chip Kelly, who is known to have a great training staff. If Murray can't play in Week 3, Ryan Mathews is a good bet for 12-15 touches as the Eagles' RB1, but the role of Darren Sproles would expand as well.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015, 6:12pm
Eagles RB DeMarco Murray (hamstring) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Murray injured the hamstring in Wednesday's practice. Remember, this was one of the concerns with Murray coming into the season. Running backs don't usually hold up the season following a massive workload, but there was some optimism since he's playing for Chip Kelly, who is known to have a great training staff. If Murray can't play in Week 3, Ryan Mathews is a good bet for 12-15 touches as the Eagles' RB1, but the role of Darren Sproles would expand as well.
The man responsible for handling the rotation is Duce Staley. In a clear sign of trust, Chip Kelly defers to his running backs coach to decide who is in and for how long during the course of a game. Staley explained his approach to that responsibility.
"I just go in with an open head and make sure I don't get caught up in the last game," he explained. "I try to get a good feeling of what's going on out there and then I go from there. I think there's too much put into it when you start sitting down and writing out a plan. You get in trouble that way."
So it's all by feel?
"I don’t think it’s very difficult," said Kelly. "I think Duce always does a really good job, depending on who is available to him, in terms of rotating those guys in. The biggest thing for us is we just want to keep someone fresh in the game. So if it takes getting you out for a couple of plays, just to get you wind and get you back, it takes a toll on the defense. So you can take Ryan Mathews out and DeMarco Murray comes in; or if DeMarco Murray comes out and Darren Sproles comes in. That’s kind of what we have been trying to build towards here and those three guys obviously give us the opportunity to do that."
One beat writer predicted a 50-30-15 split among Murray, Mathews and Sproles, with the rest of the carries divvied up among the quarterbacks and receivers. The Eagles averaged 487 carries over the last two years, so if Murray sees 50 percent of the carries, he's looking at around 244 carries. We project him to carry the ball 259 times this year, so we feel the backfield will tilt slightly more in his direction. Still, workload is a concern with Murray after he was the bell cow of all bell cows in 2014.
Eagles HC Chip Kelly said that adding depth at the position was a priority in the offseason. When you add DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews – both have been staples on the injury list over their careers – you better have some depth. But assuming Murray, Mathews and Darren Sproles stay healthy, the Eagles might have the deepest running-back group in the NFL. The guess here is that Murray gets 225-250 carries this season. He had 392 last season for the Cowboys. Mathews would be next with 100-125 carries. And Sproles would be sprinkled in for about 50. Sproles’ presence in the passing game is obviously going to be beefed up. The Eagles have made that clear. But Murray and Mathews aren’t slouches in catching passes, either and will get their share of screens and check downs.
We currently project Murray for 259 carries, Mathews for 153 and Sproles for 39, so our numbers are fairly close to McLane's "guesses." Owners counting on Murray to tote the ball 300-plus times will probably be disappointed. They're planning to use Mathews and Sproles extensively, and that will limit Murray's overall upside. We do expect Murray to be highly productive in the touches that he does get, but he's not going to approach his 2014 workload in Dallas.
Eagles RB Darren Sproles had just 40 receptions last season, which was his fewest number of catches since 2008. Coach Chip Kelly said in the offseason that he wants to get Sproles more involved in the passing game this season. “We would like to get him the ball steadily and consistently,’’ OC Pat Shurmur said. “He’s a unique player. He’s as good as any receiver you have. And then you can hand him the football. We just need to make sure we get him the ball, and we have a plan to do that. We’ve got to find that smooth mix between (DeMarco Murray), Darren and (Ryan Mathews). And nothing says we can’t put all three of them in there at the same time, which would be kind of cool.’’
On just 8.0 touches per game, Sproles was the #12 PPR running back through the first six weeks. From Week 9 on, he averaged 5.4 touches and was the #26 RB in PPR formats during that span. The news this offseason has been mixed for Sproles. The team traded away LeSean McCoy, but replaced him with both Murray and Mathews, so Sproles’s carries seem unlikely to increase. There have been reports of Sproles lining up at receiver in minicamp and OTAs, and if that carries into the regular season, he has a chance to reemerge as a viable PPR back in his 10th year.
Even if Ryan Mathews was No. 2 to DeMarco Murray's No. 1, the distribution of carries is unlikely to be as disparate as it was with LeSean McCoy over the previous two seasons. McCoy logged more than 64 percent of the Eagles' carries. The closest a backup got to him was Bryce Brown's 15 percent of rushes in 2013.
Chip Kelly hasn't put a number on how he'll divvy up the touches. Darren Sproles is also part of the equation. But a 50-30-15 split among the top three running backs would be an early guess.
We currently project a 57-27-8 split among Murray, Mathews and Sproles, and it results in a lower-than-average ranking of Murray, at least in PPR formats. If it is indeed a 50-30-15 split, then Murray probably won't provide good return at his current draft position.
Eagles running back DeMarco Murray was a virtual non-participant on Day 1 of training camp Sunday at the NovaCare Complex.
Among the Eagles' prized offseason additions, last season's rushing champion stretched with his teammates and took part in individual drills at the start of Sunday's practice but was limited to the role of a sideline spectator the rest of the day.
Murray did not take a single snap in seven-on-seven drills and was absent from every rep in full-team 11-on-11 drills as well.
"Who knows with him," An Eagles team source who requested anonymity said of Murray's conspicuous absence.
An Eagles team spokesman told NJ Advance Media that he was unaware of any injury to the running back.
Murray did fulfill his lone media obligation of the day -- a one-on-one interview with a national media outlet -- but did not speak to reporters. He is scheduled to talk at the podium after Monday's practice.
Kind of sounds like a strange situation with the comment from the unnamed source. We will continue to monitor the situation.
Even though DeMarco Murray led the NFL in rushing last season (and carried the ball more times than any other player since 2006), Chip Kelly has said since the spring that he does not want the Eagles to rely on one running back as much as they did during the past two seasons. So expect Ryan Mathews to also have a big role in the offense.
“If you have multiple backs you don’t lose anything when you take one out, and I think we probably relied on one too much in the last couple of years,” Kelly said. “But I have great confidence in those other guys that when they go into the game you don’t have to change what you’re doing. Ryan and DeMarco are very similar in terms of how they run and what they’re doing so it’s almost like you think you catch your breath when you take DeMarco out of the game but then here comes Ryan, that’s going to be a real difficult task for people, I think.”
Murray had a career year in his fourth season, racking up 2,261 total yards and 13 touchdowns on 449 touches. He should get plenty of work in Philadelphia, though the signing of Ryan Mathews and the presence of Darren Sproles make it very unlikely that he’ll surpass 400 touches in 2015. LeSean McCoy averaged 353 touches over the past two seasons, so that’s probably Murray’s ceiling if everyone stays healthy. He should hold low-end RB1 value, though the presence of Mathews and Sproles may make even that a stretch.
RB DeMarco Murray will not be counted on to carry the full load for the Eagles like he did in Dallas, where he accounted for 77 percent of the team's total carries, outpacing the second-leading rusher, Randle, by 341 carries. The presence of Ryan Mathews, himself a two-time 1,000-yard rusher, and Darren Sproles should mitigate the workload placed on Murray.
Last year, among the three top running backs, the split on carries went 75 percent to McCoy, 14 percent to Sproles and 11 percent to Polk. It's hard not to envision HC Chip Kelly opting to creep those percentages closer to something like 55-60 percent for Murray, 25-30 percent for Mathews and the remaining touches for Sproles.
Conveniently enough, we project Murray for 58.1% of the touches, with Mathews checking in at 27.1% and Sproles getting the remaining 14.8%. The article also notes that among the seven running backs who carried the ball at least 380 times in a season (and also played the following year), only two played more than 12 games, and the overall YPC dropped from 4.60 YPC in the 380-plus carry seasons to 3.60 YPC the following year. Four of the seven running backs played fewer than nine games. It remains to be seen if Kelly's superior sports science program can help Murray buck this trend.
Beat writer Andrew Kulp projected a timeshare in the Eagles' backfield:
With DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews splitting up carries—and I do believe the distribution could be closer to 50/50—the Eagles can keep both fresh, not to mention are prepared in case one gets injured.
This is the concern with drafting Murray early -- just how much will Ryan Mathews play? We currently project Murray with 290 carries and 29 receptions (or 319 touches), with Mathews coming in at 138/11 (or 149 total touches). This is essentially a 2-to-1 split, and that makes Murray our #9 RB in standard formats. If Kulp's prediction comes true, Murray will be severely overdrafted in 2015.
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