If the Eagles get the Ryan Mathews who gained 1,255 yards for the Chargers in 2013, there won't be any worries, but that is the only one of Mathews' six seasons in which he played a full 16 games. No, the likelihood is that offensive coordinator Frank Reich will be looking around for other answers, and he just might find one in rookie Wendell Smallwood, who is expected to make his preseason debut on Thursday in Pittsburgh.
Smallwood, who missed the first exhibition game because of a slight quadriceps strain, has been back on the practice field this week, hoping to show why the Eagles selected him in the fifth round of the draft.
Smallwood was the Big 12's leading rusher, gaining 1,519 yards with a 6.4 average, and he did very well at the combine, setting the lowest times among running backs in the three-cone drill and 60-yard shuttle run, the story said. Darren Sproles is effective in small doses, but at 33 years old can't be used that much; and that Kenjon Barner is a career special-teams player. That all means if Smallwood can show anything he may end up behind Mathews on the depth chart and be in line for a lot of carries if Mathews gets hurt.