Two days ago, I wrote about the Philadelphia Eagles’ embarrassment of riches at running back, but the player I’m really high on is Henry Josey. Quick refresher, the undrafted back out of Missouri has carried the ball 12 times during the preseason for 104 yards, in addition to a 27-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown—not to mention a 70-yard scamper that was erased by a wide receiver holding penalty.
You won’t see Josey on many 53-man roster projections, but he’s on mine. Yes, the 22-year-old is likely suspect in pass protection, and he may not offer much in the way of special teams contributions. However, clearly Josey’s combination of vision, footwork and explosion are rare. I dare say he may be the best pure ball-carrier on the team, potentially even more dangerous with the rock in his hands than two-time All-Pro LeSean McCoy.
That’s a strong statement, but Josey has similar star potential.
Josey wound up going undrafted largely as a result of a “one-in-a-million” knee injury he suffered during the 2011 season. Torn ACL and MCL. Ruptured patellar tendon. Torn meniscus. Miraculously, Josey returned to the football field in ’13, but NFL teams naturally were worried about the stability of an extensively repaired knee and the long-term effects of such a devastating event.
At the time of the injury, Josey was only leading the nation with 8.1 yards per carry. When he came back, all he did was rush for over 1,100 yards for the second time in his career and punch the ball into the end zone 16 times against SEC competition. Now, Josey is making fools of fellow NFL hopefuls—and making it look easy, I might add.
My guess is the Eagles were hoping to quietly pass Josey through waivers and on to their practice squad at summer’s end, but with the tape this kid has put out there over the past few weeks, I’m not sure that would be possible now. The talent is plain for anybody to see, and now there’s absolutely no risk if another team decides to scoop Josey up off the scrap heap.
If I were the Eagles, I would not allow that to happen. Josey may be too raw to keep activated on a regular basis this season, and let’s face it, the offense doesn’t exactly need him with McCoy and Darren Sproles carrying the load. However, when Josey is posting 1,500-yard campaigns a year or two down the road for some other franchise, it’s going to look silly that the Birds let him escape.
Here’s hoping Thursday night’s final preseason game against the New York Jets isn’t the last time we see Henry Josey wearing midnight green.