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.

Howie Roseman on Jason Kelce, Mychal Kendricks: 'They're going to be here going forward'

Howie Roseman on Jason Kelce, Mychal Kendricks: 'They're going to be here going forward'

The 2017 NFL draft has come and gone.

And Jason Kelce and Mychal Kendricks are both still Eagles.

The two players, who have been with the team since 2011 and 2012, respectively, have reportedly been on the trade block throughout this offseason. It seemed possible one or both could be moved during the draft, but it didn't happen.

"Yes, they are here and we fully anticipate they're going to be here going forward," Eagles VP of football operations Howie Roseman said Saturday after the draft wrapped up.

Kelce is coming off a Pro Bowl year, but at times last season didn't perform well and the Eagles have Isaac Seumalo waiting to take over. Kendricks was technically a starter last season but played minimally, coming off the field in non-base packages, something he likely wasn't thrilled about.

With the Eagles still in a tight salary cap situation, trading Kelce would save $3.8 million in cap space. Cutting Kendricks would save $1.8 million.

Did teams inquire about the two veterans over the last three days?

"We don't ever talk about trade discussions with any teams, but both those guys have been here in the offseason and they're going to be here going forward," Roseman said.

Eagles 2017 undrafted free-agent tracker

Eagles 2017 undrafted free-agent tracker

The 2017 NFL draft is over and the Eagles added eight players.

Now, they're adding more via undrafted free agents.

"There's a lot of leg work that's done prior," Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas said. "It's an all-hands-on-deck mentality. Scouts are working with coaches. We have our list of guys, we're recruiting these guys. We're calling agents, recruiting agents as well.

"Much like the draft, once the draft is over, we have our list of guys. We go by the ranking. We load the roster up. I think it went as smoothly as possible."

The Eagles addressed defensive needs and added a few offensive weapons for quarterback Carson Wentz. They drafted a defensive end — Derek Barnett — in the first round Thursday.

On Friday, they added two cornerbacks and on Saturday, they drafted two wide receivers, a running back, a safety-turned-linebacker and a defensive tackle.

Here is a tracker of the undrafted free agents the Eagles signed after the draft.

Greg Ward Jr., WR, 5-11/185, Houston
Ward signed with the Eagles after the draft, according to FOX 26's Mark Berman. He was a quarterback in college but switched to wide receiver during the draft process. At Houston's pro day, Ward ran a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash. He threw for 8,705 yards and 53 touchdowns in four years at Houston but was also a dual threat. He ran for 1,108 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2015, and last season, he added 518 yards and 10 scores on the ground. In 2013 and 2014, he combined for 25 catches for 234 yards and two receiving TDs.

Cam Johnston, P, 5-11/190, Ohio State
Johnston tweeted after the draft he signed with the Eagles. Johnston was the Eddleman-Fields Big Ten Punter of the Year in 2016, an All-Big Ten first team and a Ray Guy award finalist. Johnston set Ohio State single-season and all-time records for punts inside the 20 — 31 punts inside the 20 in 2015 and 109 career punts inside the 20. He also set a school record with a 57.0-yard average in 2014 against Illinois.

Tyler Orlosky, C, 6-3/298, West Virginia
Orlosky is the third Mountaineer to join the Eagles this draft. The center signed with the team after the draft, according to the Daily Athenaeum's Chris Jackson. The Eagles drafted cornerback Rasul Douglas on Friday and wide receiver Shelton Gibson on Saturday. Counting running back Wendell Smallwood last season, that's now four West Virginia players added in some capacity in the last two drafts.

Corey Clements, RB, 5-11/209, Wisconsin
Clements joins the Eagles as an UDFA, according to FOX 29's Howard Eskin. Clements ran for 1,375 yards with a 4.4 yards per carry average, 15 touchdowns on 314 attempts.