Philadelphia Eagles

Doug Pederson considers making Darren Sproles Eagles' primary back

Doug Pederson considers making Darren Sproles Eagles' primary back

Doug Pederson said Monday he’s considering replacing Ryan Mathews with 33-year-old Darren Sproles as the Eagles’ primary running back.

Pederson said he's evaluating how to proceed at the running back spot, which has been somewhat muddled for the Eagles this year.

Asked whether Sproles will be the Eagles’ featured back moving forward, Pederson sure sounded like he was leaning that way. Or at least seriously considering it.

“I can't say that 100 percent,” he said. “It's something we'll evaluate in these next couple of days and make that determination. 

“But until then, it's still Ryan Mathews and then Darren in those situations. And then we've got to get Wendell [Smallwood] and Kenjon [Barner] going a little bit, too.”

Mathews, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher and a Pro Bowler in 2011, leads the Eagles with 71 carries and 272 rushing yards but got only four carries on eight snaps in the loss to Dallas on Sunday night. 

Sproles ran for 86 yards on 15 carries — his most carries since 2009 and his most rushing yards since 2011.

Sproles is now averaging 5.0 yards per carry and also has 22 catches for 227 yards.

Mathews has four rushing touchdowns this year but is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry and is the only NFL running back with two fourth-quarter fumbles this year.

Pederson said his decision to elevate Sproles over Mathews was not related to Mathews’ fumbles.

“It wasn't a reaction,” he said. “I just think that Darren had the hot hand [Sunday]. Darren was playing outstanding, and he was doing some great things out there. So, just wanted to keep Darren in the game.”

Sproles is on pace for 105 carries, which would be a career high in his 10th NFL season.

No running back in NFL history has ever reached 100 carries for the first time at 33 or older.

With nine games to go, Sproles’ 81 touches are already the fifth most in Eagles history by a player 33 or older, and his 455 yards from scrimmage are third most.

Sproles is on pace for 1,040 yards from scrimmage this year. Only nine backs 33 or older have been over 1,000.

Pederson said he’s not concerned with overusing Sproles, who has had double-digit carries in only 10 of his 169 career games.

“I definitely think he's capable,” Pederson said. “I think you don't want to give him any more than what he got [Sunday], with his role on special teams and all that, too. 

“If you know Darren like I know Darren, the way he works during the week and the way he prepares himself and prepares his body and mind, he's definitely capable of handling that type of load.”

Smallwood is averaging 3.8 yards on 29 carries but fumbled on his only carry Sunday night. Barner is averaging 5.3 yards per carry on 19 attempts but has only five carries since the bye.

The Eagles and Panthers are the only teams with four backs that have at least 19 carries.

National Anthem Notebook: Steelers, Titans and Seahawks no-shows

National Anthem Notebook: Steelers, Titans and Seahawks no-shows

The Tennessee Titans are joining the Seattle Seahawks in deciding not to come out for the national anthem.

The Seahawks announced nearly 30 minutes before kickoff that they would not stand for the national anthem because they "will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country."

The Titans followed 10 minutes later by saying they will remain in the locker room during the national anthem. They posted a statement on their website noting they want to be unified as a team with the players deciding jointly that staying inside was the best course of action.

The team also said their commitment to the military and community is "resolute" and that "the absence of our team for the national anthem shouldn't be misconstrued as unpatriotic."

Seattle has been one of the more outspoken teams in professional sports on social issues, led by Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin.

NFL to re-air unity ad
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a tweet that the league will re-air a unity television advertisement Sunday night that it first ran during February's Super Bowl.

The one-minute spot called "Inside These Lines," will be shown during the Sunday night game between the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins.

Over images and video of NFL players embracing one another on the field, the narrator says "Inside these lines, we don't have to come from the same place to help each other reach the same destination."

Goodell said that President's Trump's remarks about the NFL demonstrated "an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL."

Steelers stay in locker room for anthem
The Pittsburgh Steelers have decided to stay in their locker room for the national anthem before their game against the Chicago Bears, coach Mike Tomlin has told CBS.

The move was apparently in reaction to President Donald Trump's suggestion that NFL owners fire players who kneel for the national anthem.

Several players from the Jaguars and Ravens decided to kneel in the first NFL game of the day in London. Then Tomlin said his players would not be on the sideline at Soldier Field in Chicago for the anthem.

Tagliabue lashes out at Trump
Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue called President Donald Trump's comments on NFL players "insulting and disgraceful."

Tagliabue, who was in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a guest of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, spoke to the media before Carolina's game against the New Orleans Saints.

"For me to single out any particular group of players and call them SOB's, to me, that is insulting and disgraceful," Tagliabue said. "So I think the players deserve credit for what they do. And when it comes to speech they are entitled to speak. And we are entitled to listen. We are entitled to agree or disagree. But we're not entitled to shut anybody's speech down. Sometimes you don't like what you hear and that is true in life in lots of contexts, but you can't shut people down and be disgraceful when you are doing it."

Richardson is not making a statement on the Trump's remarks, per team spokesman Steven Drummond.

Dolphins players support Kaepernick
A handful of Miami Dolphins players are wearing black T-shirts supporting free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick during pregame warm-ups.

The shirts have "(hash)IMWITHKAP" written in bold white lettering on the front.

Kaepernick was the first athlete to refuse to stand during the national anthem as a protest. This season, no team has signed him, and some supporters believe NFL owners are avoiding him because of the controversy.

Among the players sporting the shirts before their game against the New York Jets are wide receiver Kenny Stills, running back Jay Ajayi and offensive linemen Laremy Tunsil and Ja'Wuan James. Stills, also a team captain, posted a photo on Twitter of himself wearing the shirt , along with the post: "In case you didn't know!"

Bills fans speak out
Outside the Buffalo Bills' New Era Field, fans were tailgating as normal with no signs of protests or indications of support.

Last season, vendors here sold anti-Colin Kaepernick jerseys -- including one with him pictured in the crosshairs of a target -- before the San Francisco 49ers game at Orchard Park on Oct. 16. Kaepernick was jeered once the game began.

Kaepernick was the first player to refuse to stand during the national anthem.

"If they do this as a whole team, I will want my money back as a season-ticket holder and I'll never come back to a game again," fan Mike Ragyna said when asked about the prospect of players protesting during the anthem.

"There's no reason they can't stand for the national anthem and get up on a soapbox afterward and do it then," Ragyna said.

Jags owner stands with players
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan calls it a privilege to stand arm-in-arm with players during the national anthem in London.

Khan stood between tight end Marcedes Lewis and linebacker Telvin Smith at Wembley Stadium and then released a statement to express his support for players. Coaches and other team personnel from both teams did the same before the game against the Ravens.

About two dozen players on both teams kneeled, something President Donald Trump has said owners should fire players for.

"It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars today for the playing of the U.S. national anthem at Wembley Stadium," Khan said. "I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem."

Treasury Secretary defends Trump
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is defending President Donald Trump's attacks on football players who kneel during the national anthem.

Speaking on ABC's "This Week" Sunday morning, Mnuchin says the National Football League enforces other types of rules and Trump thinks "owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem."

Mnuchin adds that "they can do free speech on their own time."

Trump suggested during a speech Friday night that NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. A handful of NFL players have refused to stand to protest several issues, including police brutality.

White House responds
A White House adviser says the president lashed out at NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem because he stands with Americans who want the anthem respected.

Marc Short is director of legislative affairs. He argues on NBC's "Meet the Press" that President Donald Trump believes NFL players have First Amendment rights, but that owners should have the right to fire them.

Trump seemed to disinvite the NBA champion Golden State Warriors from the White House because of star Stephen Curry's public opposition to him.

Asked why Trump is inflaming tensions, Short says the Warriors started it. He says players "were the ones that first went out ... and began criticizing the president."

Ravens owner supports players
Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti says he "100 percent" supports his players' decision to kneel during the national anthem ahead of Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley.

At least seven Ravens players and more than a dozen Jaguars players took a knee during the anthem while the rest of the players stood locked arm-in-arm in an apparent response to President Donald Trump, who said this week that NFL owners should fire those who disrespected the American flag.

But the Ravens issued a statement from Bisciotti minutes after kickoff, saying: "We recognize our players' influence. We respect their demonstration and support them 100 percent. All voices need to be heard. That's democracy in its highest form."

Jaguars owner Shad Khan stood arm-in-arm with his players during the anthem.

Ravens, Jags players kneel
About two dozen players, including Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before the start of the teams' game at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

Other players on one knee during the performance included Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, wide receiver Mike Wallace and safety Lardarius Webb as well as Jaguars linebacker Dante Fowler, defensive tackle Calais Campbell, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

Players on both teams and Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who were not kneeling, remained locked arm-in-arm throughout the playing of the national anthem and "God Save The Queen," the national anthem of Britain.

No players were kneeling during the playing of the British national anthem.

President Donald Trump had a suggestion on Saturday for National Football League owners whose players decide to take a knee during the national anthem: fire them.