Friday, October 20, 2017, 6:56pm
Eagles RB Wendell Smallwood (knee) took full practice reps again Friday. It looks like Smallwood will make his return this week. Look for him to fill the Darren Sproles role in the offense, with a few extra carries, if he’s fully healthy.
Thursday, October 19, 2017, 6:46pm
Eagles RB Wendell Smallwood (knee) took full practice reps Thursday. It looks like Smallwood will make his return this week. Look for him to fill the Darren Sproles role in the offense, with a few extra carries, if he’s fully healthy.
The best chance the Eagles have on their roster of replacing Darren Sproles is second-year back Wendell Smallwood, but because of his limitations in pass protection, it is unlikely they will make him the featured back.
Related Players: LeGarrette Blount
Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich said Tuesday Smallwood would "no doubt" have an increased role, but how much remains to be seen. This will likely still be a split backfield with Blout and Smallwood, but fantasy owners are just hoping it doesn't become a 3-man RBBC again, even without Sproles for the rest of the season.
Related players: Wendell Smallwood
The story said it's not clear how much Barner will play on offense. He is familiar with the system so if he's active he could potentially cut into Smallwood's workload, which was getting a lot of hype so far this week, on passing downs.
About five weeks ago, reporters were asking Wendell Smallwood if he thought he would make the Eagles’ roster.
Smallwood made it, despite a hamstring injury that dogged him through training camp and the preseason. Tuesday, reporters were asking Smallwood if he thinks he can fill in for Darren Sproles the rest of the year.
“There’s no doubt Wendell’s going to have an increased role,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said Tuesday. “He’s the guy – I think all the [backs] have some third-down ability, but I think Wendell has really improved in that area. He showed a natural aptitude for it early, both from a protection standpoint and from a route-running standpoint. I’m not sure you can ever replace ‘43’ in that regard; he’s just a unique player. But I feel good about Wendell, and him stepping up.”
The hype around Smallwood started at the same time the rumors of Blount not making the team came about. Those who follow the team feel he has improved in the pass-catching area so he's the logical choice for replacing Sproles in passing downs. Keep in mind, the Eagles haven't been a sure-thing when it comes to consistently running the ball, but Smallwood's potential role in the passing game should give him value going forward.
Sproles was set to return when the injury was just to his arm, but this likely ends his 2017, and possibly his career - at least with the Eagles.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles is believed to have suffered a broken arm, Ian Rapoport reported. The veteran will undergo an MRI on Monday to learn additional details, but is out indefinitely.
Related players: Wendell Smallwood
Reports out of Philly early Monday morning from those who follow the team didn't make it seem like Sproles would be placed on IR or lost for the season. Obviously those are unofficial, so we'll continue to monitor. Smallwood seems to be the most likely candidate to pick up Sproles' touches.
Related players: Wendell Smallwood
The injury looked like it was to his knee. A replay during the game saw a foot make contact with Sproles' wrist during the tackle. If Sproles misses time, Smallwood could at least end up getting passing down snaps.
Don’t expect any one running back to carry the load in Philadelphia this season.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson said today that he won’t have one featured back as his full-time starter this year. Instead, he’ll rotate things from one game to the next, playing the players who match up best with that week’s opponent.
Pederson added four of the RBs would be active week-to-week. Most likely, Clement or Pumphrey would sit a majority of the weeks, especially Pumphrey who didn't show much of anything this summer, but was a fourth round pick. Blount and Smallwood should carry much of the early-down workload with Sproles obviously a passing-catching threat. Smallwood has also improved his pass-catching. This situation will need to sort itself out. The Eagles did use this approach last year to an extent, but it could very well mean the team is still looking for someone to step up and carry the load.
LeGarrette Blount has underwhelmed this summer with nine carries for 17 yards. In Thursday’s 20-16 win over Buffalo, Blount had five carries for 8 yards and fumbled on one of his two receptions.
Coach Doug Pederson played down Blount’s lack of production. He said the Eagles have not called any design runs. They’re using training-camp concepts and trying to get evaluations of their personnel. He expects different results when there are blocking schemes and running schemes tailored to the personnel, game situation, and defense they face.
In 19 games (including the playoffs), Blount averaged 67 yards and 1.0 TD en route to 12.9 PPG and a #9 finish at his position in PPR formats. He only averaged 3.80 YPC on the year, and just 3.29 YPC over his final eight games. He should take over the Ryan Mathews role in the Philadelphia offense. Mathews saw 168 touches (13 receptions) in 13 games, or 12.9 touches per game. If Blount gets all of Mathews’ carries and plays a full season, he should see 185-195 carries and is a threat for double-digit touchdowns. (Mathews scored eight rushing touchdowns last year.) Beware of Wendell Smallwood though, as some reports this preseason say he may be involved more than last season. That could eat into Blount's projected early-down workload, especially if he continues to struggle.
Mathews had his surgically repaired neck checked out, and doctors gave him a clean bill of health.
To update this item, reports later said the team has officially released Mathews.
Mathews turns 30 in October. He had 155 carries and 661 yards last season in 13 games but did have eight TDs in that span.
"Smallwood looks explosive and physical running with the football, and smooth as a receiver out of the backfield. "Thrashing" is how Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich described the second-year back the other day, and I agree...I think we see quite a bit more Smallwood than Pumphrey, and he could wind up with the most touches out of the whole bunch before the season ends."
The Eagles backfield was already a weekly minefield last season in Doug Pederson's first season as head coach. Darren Sproles was the best finisher at RB24 in PPR, and Ryan Mathews was the best finisher in standard at RB25. No RB saw more than 168 touches last season in Philadelphia. This could turn into a three-headed running back by committee or worse.
I hope you’re not sick of hearing 2017 third-rounder Alvin Kamara being liken to Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles. The comparisons will continue, and a red-zone drill session like the one he produced during Saturday’s training camp practice will keep the mentions alive.
The first-year tailback took two consecutive plays into the end zone against the first-team defense to give opposing defenses a glimpse of what might be coming their way during the regular season.
Kamara lined up as the single back behind Drew Brees. The play looked like it was supposed to go up the gut. The hole didn’t exist. Kamara improvised and bounced around the left edge of the offensive line. No one was catching Kamara as he scampered into the end zone.
Kamara lined up in the same spot on the play. Brees gave Kamara a playaction fake to the right. Kamara took his route to out the backfield to the route and made the reception. The Saints tailback then fought through a hit from A.J. Klein around the 2-yard line and dove into the end zone with an outreached arm for the score.
It appears that Kamara will take over as the team's passing down back, a role that has been filled by Sproles and Travaris Cadet in the last few years. He's a sleeper in PPR formats, but with Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson in the same offense, Kamara is going to have a tough time getting many carries.
The Eagles' running back situation is like a giant puzzle. We know the pieces but we don't know how they'll all fit together just yet.
"They're open to everything," LeGarrette Blount said. "They're not going to just specifically put me in the role of short-yardage, goal line back. That's not what they brought me here for. They have an open mind. They're going to put me in other situations. I'm excited about every part of the game."
Blount, 30, is coming off a season that saw him carry the ball 299 times for 1,161 yards and an astounding 18 touchdowns. For comparison, the Eagles' top rusher in 2016 was Ryan Mathews, who carried the ball 155 times for 661 yards and eight scores. (Mathews is still technically on the roster but is expected to be cut once fully healed.)
After Blount, the Eagles still have Wendell Smallwood, Darren Sproles and Donnell Pumphrey. All four backs seem to have different skill sets and it'll be up to head coach Doug Pederson to figure out how the puzzle fits together.
Pederson was quoted in the story saying he wanted to get all the RB touches. That's something similar to what happened last year, which isn't an ideal fantasy situation. But, Blount should get a bulk of early down work at least, while Sproles and Pumphrey, who seem to be of the same mold, get third down work and passing situation downs. Smallwood seems to be more of a backup to Blount.
Darren Sproles is 33 years old, and he is really beginning to feel the pull of family.
His two daughters are "getting to the age that they want their daddy around more," Sproles explained, and so he has decided that next season will be his last in the NFL. That was the thought when he inked a one-year extension through 2017 this summer with the Philadelphia Eagles, and it remains the thought as he gets set to complete his 12th season in the league.
His hope is to remain in Philadelphia for the swan song -- he has grown close to many of his teammates and is fond of the coaching staff -- but noted that whether he's back in an Eagles uniform next season is out of his hands.
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