Donnel Pumphrey looked a little better this spring, but he needs to have a great training camp. Right now, I have the Eagles keeping four running backs: Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement, Matt Jones. If they keep five, Pump has a real chance; he’d just need to beat out Wendell Smallwood for that final spot. I think he has a decent chance, but I haven’t seen enough to give him a roster spot. He’s a player I’ll be watching extremely close at training camp.
The return of Sproles really makes it tough to keep Pumphrey in 2018. The emergence of Clement in a passing-down role last year also could indicate Pumphrey make not make it through camp.
“Came in last year and obviously proved to us that he can handle it,” Pederson said. “He’s definitely going into camp as the No. 1 guy. It takes nothing away from what Corey [Clement] did or what [Darren] Sproles has done here, Wendell [Smallwood], [RB Donnel Pumphrey] is coming back, Matt Jones. You’ve got guys that are going to compete in that role.”
Pederson did add that the Eagles will still rotate running backs, but this is night and day from a year ago when he didn't name a lead back prior to the season. Ajayi got off to a slow start with Philadelphia after being traded from the Dolphins, but averaged 13.8 carries and 1.8 receptions over his final six appearances (including the playoffs). Ajayi could flirt with the 260 carries he had with Miami in 2016 when he finished as the No. 11 running back in PPR leagues.
LeGarrette Blount, the team's leading rusher with 766 yards on 173 carries in 2017, is now with the Detroit Lions. And even with Darren Sproles poised to come back from his season-ending knee injury and promising second-year back Corey Clement in the fold, Jay Ajayi is poised to be the featured back.
"I'm pretty sure that Jay is excited about being able to go out there and dominate and being able to be that guy," assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley said. "I know Doug (Pederson) is excited about it also. We'll see."
Despite being in a committee last year after joining Philly, the loss of Blount should mean more work for Ajayi—even with Sproles and Clement in the mix as well. Ajayi is no stranger to being the featured back. In 2016, he had 260 carries, ninth-most in the league, on his way to earning Pro Bowl honors with Miami.
There is no quarterback controversy in Philadelphia.
"I think inside he's very hungry," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said of Carson Wentz before mandatory veteran minicamp at NovaCare Complex on Tuesday. "I would be. As the leader of the team, the face of the franchise, he was drafted to be our guy long term. Listen, I still believe this is Carson's team. I don't think differently about that. But yeah he's chomping, he's ready to get back out there."
Related players: Nick Foles
The story said if the season had to start today, it would likely have to be Foles under center. But Wentz is quickly working his way back, and indications out of Philly seem to be he will be ready to go when the season starts. After Foles won the Super Bowl, the fact Wentz was having an MVP-like year before the ACL injury seems to be forgotten.
After spending the first four seasons of his career in Pittsburgh, Wheaton took a one-year sabbatical from The Keystone Stone and played for Chicago last season. This seems like nothing more than a depth chart signing, so we aren't all that eager in considering Wheaton a fantasy option this season.
Following the offseason departure of LeGarrette Blount to Detroit, the Eagles' RB depth chart consisted of Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Wendall Smallwood, and Donnel Pumphrey. They did not add a back during the draft, which bodes well for Sproles to earn significant playing time—likely in his regular pass-catching specialist role.
From 2014 to 2016, Sproles has averaged 72 targets and 49 receptions as an Eagle.
The “U” tight end, which Trey Burton will play, is critical to establishing those mismatches. The U in Nagy’s scheme normally will play in the slot, although he will line up elsewhere at times, with the primary objective of running pass routes.
“You can move around, do different things — it’s what we did with (Travis) Kelce (in the Chiefs),” Nagy said. “It’s an important role. It’s a position that’s easy to create some plays for.”
That is, when you have a tight end with Burton’s size and speed, it’s about mismatches.
“So if you get a small nickel on him, he can use his size to body him up. If they put a bigger guy on him, we can use his speed,” Nagy said. “That’s one of the things I learned through (Chiefs coach Andy Reid), getting mismatches throughout. That’s what Trey does.”
Burton signed a deal worth $32 million over four years, so the Bears obviously think highly of his skill set. He's definitely undersized for a tight end, but he’s extremely fast and pretty agile for the position. In the four games that Zach Ertz missed over the last two years, Burton averaged 3.5 catches for 45 yards and 1.0 touchdowns on 5.8 targets per game.
Wallace has spent the last two seasons in Baltimore, with his first being more productive—72 catches for 1,017 yards and four touchdowns. Last season he produced over 150 PPR points, finishing as the No. 38 scoring receiver in the format (WR23 the year prior). Factor in Zach Ertz, and it's hard to envision Wallace being targeted a ton in the Eagles' offense next season.
In his first season as an Eagle, Blount ran the ball 173 times for 766 yards and two touchdowns as part of RBBC. His 173 attempts and 766 yards would have led the Lions last season.
He will most likely be a part of a committee system in Detroit again, but could find himself at the top of the depth chart. In standard leagues, Blount should be viewed as an RB2/RB3 option.
After news broke last night that the Bears intend to sign WR Allen Robinson, it appears they are adding another offensive playmaker in the form of former Eagles TE Trey Burton. Ian Rapaport reports that it's a four-year deal worth $32 million.
While he played second fiddle to Zach Ertz at the tight end position in the Eagles' offense, Burton still managed to lead the position in touchdowns with five. He has shown that if given the chance he can produce, as evidenced by his five-catch, 71-yard, two-touchdown game in Week 14 last season.
He easily becomes the Bears' top tight end and should be on your fantasy radars come draft day.
Looking to overhaul their receiving room, the Carolina Panthers have acquired Torrey Smith from the Eagles in exchange for cornerback Daryl Worley, sources told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on Friday.
Smith rolls into Carolina with a chance to make an impact for an offense that also boasts Devin Funchess, Russell Shepard and second-year speedster Curtis Samuel at the position. Smith isn't the deep threat he once was, but he gives quarterback Cam Newton an experienced downfield target to play with.
Smith isn't a fantasy factor right now, but it's not inconceivable that he could have a Ted Ginn-type year in Carolina.
A source close to the situation confirmed an NFL.com report Wednesday that Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has undergone surgery to repair his right rotator cuff. The source said the goal is for Jeffery to be ready for the 2018 regular season, though he could return during the preseason if all goes well.
This explains why Jeffery was missing practice time in training camp and during the preseason and helps to explain why it took Jeffery and Carson Wentz a while to get on the same page.
Reich, 56, spent the past two seasons in Philadelphia helping the Eagles' offense, led by quarterbacks Carson Wentz and (after Week 14) Nick Foles, improve from 22nd to seventh in the NFL this season.
Carson Wentz confirmed on Friday what we suspected on the day of his injury — that he has an LCL tear in addition to the previously reported ACL tear.
What does this mean for the Eagles quarterback’s recovery?
Most likely, Wentz had a primary repair where the lateral collateral ligament was sewn back together (which speeds recovery) versus needing a graft. That type of repair is more common in LCL tears, as opposed to the ACL, which almost always requires reconstruction with a graft.
At this point, it is still reasonable to hope Wentz can be ready by Week 1. If that happens, he will almost certainly be limited to being a pocket quarterback.
However, there is no guarantee Wentz will even be ready to take the field by then.
Related players: Nick Foles
Wentz was the No. 2 fantasy quarterback through Week 14, and he missed the final three games after tearing his ACL and LCL. His draft stock will be depressed until it becomes clear that he'll be ready to play Week 1, and even then he is unlikely to be much of a running threat as his knee won't be 100 percent healed. Wentz won't look like his old self until the second half of the season (or perhaps the 2019 season). Look for the Eagles to hold onto Nick Foles as insurance since he's still under contract for another year.
Sunday, February 4, 2018, 4:39pm
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