Can Felix Jones Help the Eagles?

Can Felix Jones Help the Eagles?

You wouldn’t necessarily describe the Eagles as being thin at running back, not with All-Pro LeSean McCoy and impressive 22-year-old Bryce Brown. However, since Dion Lewis was shipped to Cleveland for linebacker Emmanuel Acho, there is definitely an opening on the roster.

That explains why the team is kicking the tires on Felix Jones. On Tuesday ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Eagles gave the former Dallas Cowboy and first-round pick a workout, which for now GM Howie Roseman is describing as “due diligence.”

That explanation is fine, but assuming all went well the Birds may want to consider offering Jones a contract next.

For starters, it’s unclear who will fill the third running back spot vacated by Lewis. Chris Polk seems the clear favorite among the players currently on the roster. Polk managed to make the team last season as an undrafted free agent out of Washington, so the organization appears to think highly of him. Chip Kelly's familiarity with him from the Pac-12 can't hurt, either.

Aside from Polk, the club has two new undrafted rookies on the 90-man roster, likely just camp bodies. Maybe they have a shot at making the final cut, but then a little veteran competition couldn’t hurt, either.

Brown for that matter is no sure thing. With his combination of size and speed, there’s no doubt the Eagles would like the second-year back to be the uncontested number two behind Shady. Fact is he had a fumbling problem last season, and while that can be corrected, it’s not a given, especially not over one offseason.

Still, Jones could be more than competition. He never quite fulfilled his potential with Dallas, but the cat didn’t post bad numbers at all, running for 2,728 yards over five seasons at an impressive 4.8 yards per carry. He added another 1,062 yards through the air on 127 receptions.

That said, 2012 was Jones’ worst season in the NFL. Part of the reason for that might be playing in the worst rushing offense in the NFL. Regardless, he posted a career-low 3.6 YPC regardless, while his 664 yards from scrimmage were his lowest since he was a rookie.

And Jones hasn’t always been the most sound ball carrier himself, fumbling the ball at least twice in each of the past four season despite limited touches.

Is he a player in decline? Hard to say from the outside, and likely one of the answers the Birds were trying to get from a workout. Jones isn’t old or anything, turning 26 today as a matter of fact, and he doesn’t have a ton of mileage on him at the NFL level, only 569 carries in five seasons – that’s two seasons worth to some backs.

Of course the other issue here is besides returning kicks – something the team wouldn’t necessarily ask him to do – Jones doesn’t play on special teams. The third back usually helps out on the coverage unit, something Polk did for the Eagles last season.

Then again, the team carried four running backs a season ago, so it’s not exactly mandatory.

Could Jones help the Eagles? He was a special talent coming out of college, it just never quite materialized in the pros. He has been an effective spell though, something the Birds could probably use in Kelly’s up-tempo system.

We’ll see what the Eagles think after they’ve had another camp or two to evaluate their own players, but don’t undersell Felix Jones. He didn’t live up to being a first-round pick, but he might have some value yet in the NFL.

Penn State blasted at home by red-hot George Mason

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Penn State blasted at home by red-hot George Mason

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The cheers reverberating from George Mason's locker room came from players experiencing their hottest streak in years. The quiet from Penn State's mirrored the whimper of the Nittany Lions in the second half as their run was snapped.

Marquise Moore scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Otis Livingston added 18 points and the Patriots beat Penn State 85-66 for their sixth straight win and best stretch since 2011-12 on Wednesday.

"It was a great win for our team, really proud of our guys," George Mason coach Dave Paulsen said. "We really, really competed with toughness in the second half, especially I think our second-half defense was really good."

Jalen Jenkins added 15 points for the Patriots (7-3) who snapped Penn State's four-game winning streak.

Penn State led 38-37 after a wild first half that featured 12 lead changes. But the Raiders took control starting with Livingston's 3-pointer that made it 42-40 early in the second. They dominated from there, leading for the remaining 18:58 and outrebounded the Nittany Lions 44-29, outscored them 44-16 in the paint and held a speedy Penn State team to just two fastbreak points.

"We looked young tonight for whatever reason," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We have to figure that out. We have to play much harder."

Payton Banks led Penn State (6-4) with 21 points. Shep Garner and Lamar Stevens chipped in 13 apiece for the Nittany Lions.

The big picture
George Mason: The Patriots are on a roll and keeping pace in a competitive Atlantic 10 conference that had five teams with six wins entering the night. They seem to have flipped a switch following a 93-65 loss to Houston on Nov. 21 and haven't lost since.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions had been winning despite deficiencies in a few areas while making up for them in others over the last four games. They weren't able to make up for their lack of production in the paint, however.

Guards on the glass
Paulsen was wary of the size advantage Penn State's forwards had heading in. The Patriots didn't start anyone over 6-foot-7 while Penn State boasted a trio of forwards at or taller than that. Paulsen was particularly concerned about 6-foot-9 Mike Watkins who was fresh off his best game where he blocked 12 shots against Wright State.

But the George Mason coach had faith in his guards' ability to attack the net and win those rebounds. Moore entered the game as the country's top rebounding guard with 10 per game and posted his sixth double-double of the season.

"We have some pretty good rebounding guards," Paulsen said. "So you can't do it unless you have really active, rebounding guards."

Veteran responsibility
Penn State's gotten big time contributions from a handful of freshmen and started three as usual. But it was one of the veterans who shouldered blame afterward.

Banks was dejected after the game and pointed the finger at himself. Despite leading the team in points, he wasn't able to help on the glass.

"A lot of it just starts with me right here," Banks said. "I had zero rebounds. We can't rely on Lamar (Miller) and Mike for the scoring load and Julian (Moore). Our guards have to rebound and that's what we lacked this game and it definitely showed on the scoreboard."

Up next
George Mason plays at Penn on Saturday and has three of their final five games in 2016 at home.

Penn State plays Pittsburgh in Newark, New Jersey, on Saturday and has another on the road before closing out 2016 with a pair of games at home, including the Big Ten opener on Dec. 27.

Instant Replay: George Washington 66, Temple 63

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Instant Replay: George Washington 66, Temple 63

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With one second on the shot clock, George Washington forward Tyler Cavanaugh let a three-point shot fly from the corner right in front of his bench.

Cavanaugh’s shot hit the bottom of the net to give the Colonials a three-point lead with 8.2 seconds left. Moments later, Temple redshirt senior swingman Daniel Dingle’s open look at a game-tying shot hit off the back of the rim, and George Washington handed the Owls a 66-63 loss on Wednesday at the Liacouras Center.

Temple (6-3) came into the game on a five-game winning streak but looked sluggish from the start. The Owls scored just five points in the game’s first six minutes, 34 seconds.

Temple went into halftime down, 31-25, and trailed George Washington (6-4) by as many as 15 points in the second half. Senior guard Josh Brown hit two threes late in the second half to bring Temple within six. Dingle hit two more to tie the game at 61-61 with 2:44 left. 

Two Cavanaugh free throws followed by a jumper from Temple sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr. then tied the game at 63-63 with 39.1 seconds left.

The Owls played the game’s final moments without junior forward Obi Enechionyia, who fouled out with 3:41 left.

Enechionyia cooling off
Enechionyia was held in check for the second game in a row. He scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds but made only one basket in the second half.

The junior went 5 of 17 for 12 points against Penn on Saturday. He scored 20-plus points in five of Temple’s first seven games.

Inside the box score
• Colonials guard Jordan Roland came into the game averaging 4.3 points per game. Roland scored 14 points on Wednesday.

• Brown, who played his first game of the season last Wednesday against St. Joe’s, played a season-high 24 minutes. He played a combined 25 minutes in his first two contests.

• George Washington outrebounded Temple, 37-23. The Colonials had 18 turnovers compared to nine for Temple.

Up next
Temple plays DePaul in the Miami Hoophall Invitational on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.