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Just about every time you looked up, there was Wendell Smallwood.
The Eagles are a bit short-handed at running back at the moment. Darren Sproles has been absent all offseason and Oregon rookie Byron Marshall is among those impacted by the NFL graduation rule. That left the likes of Ryan Mathews, Kenjon Barner, Cedric O’Neal and Smallwood to carry the load as OTAs got underway at the NovaCare.
“Duce [Staley] gave me a lot of reps. I was with the twos and the threes,” said Smallwood following Tuesday’s practice. “He’s telling me I’ve got to get my motor going. He wants me to be contributing to this team so I definitely think I’m going to have to get a lot of reps and have to get better.”
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Darren Sproles. (Jeff Fusco)
Darren Sproles has missed all of the Eagles voluntary workouts, Doug Pederson said today.
As OTAs began this morning, Ian Rapoport tweeted that the Eagles received trade interest during the draft for Sproles, and that the running back is “staying away from OTAs until its [sic] sorted out.” Rapoport added that the situation isn’t “filled with frustration,” but Sproles is on the West Coast with his family.
Pederson, however, said the Eagles have no interest in trading Sproles, and the 32-year-old doesn’t want to leave Philadelphia. Read more »
Fletcher Cox. (Jeff Fusco)
After skipping the first two weeks of the Eagles’ offseason program, Fletcher Cox is expected to also miss minicamp this week, according to Doug Pederson.
The head coach, however, said he didn’t mind because the activities are voluntary.
“I’m okay with Fletcher Cox not being here,” Pederson said. “Do we miss him? Yeah, we miss him and we’d love to have him around, but right now, he’s hopefully keeping himself in shape and getting ready to go. I’m excited to when I do finally get to work with him.” Read more »
Carson Wentz. (USA Today Sports Images)
Here’s a hump day roundup of Eagles-related links to get you through the pre-draft lull period.
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Doug Pederson. (USA Today Sports)
Sam Bradford’s durability was one of the biggest question marks heading into the 2015 season, but the storyline has somewhat fallen by the wayside amid all of the change in the last few months.
During his hour-long media availability at the owners meetings last week, Doug Pederson discussed his quarterback at length, touching on Bradford’s durability toward the end.
“It’s one thing with where Sam has come — he’s come a long way with his weight. Would you like to see a bigger guy? You would, just from the durability issues and the contact there, but it’s not a concern,” Pederson said. “He’s actually put on a little weight this spring through some of his workouts. He missed a lot of offseason time last year because of rehab, so he’s in a position now to really focus on strength.” Read more »
Photo by: Jeff Fusco
Here’s what they’re saying about the Eagles coming off Combine week:
Mike Garafolo reported that the Eagles have upped their offer to Sam Bradford. On Monday, Garafolo joined the 97.5 morning show to shed more light on the situation:
“They’re just trying to get this done, and send a message that, ‘Hey, even though this is a guy that Chip [Kelly] brought in, we like him.’ Howie [Roseman] likes him, Doug Pederson likes him. I gather Frank Reich likes him; John DeFelippo, the quarterbacks coach, likes him. So that was the message in all this: as one person put it to me, Howie is making it clear he wants it done. And usually when Howie says he wants a deal done, that deal usually gets done. That was the point behind the Eagles making the offer.”
Garafolo says the Eagles believe they sweetened the offer enough to where it’s comparable to what he’ll likely get on the market. And what price range might Bradford fall in? Read more »
Ryan Mathews and DeMarco Murray. (Jeff Fusco)
Throughout the next two weeks, we’ll take a position-by-position look at where the Eagles stand going into the offseason. In the first installment we covered the quarterbacks, and now it’s on to the running backs.
STATE OF THE ROSTER
The Eagles spent nearly $12 million in 2015 on running backs (second-most in the NFL, per Spotrac), but by just about every measure, they fell short of lofty preseason expectations. Philadelphia ranked 21st in yards per carry (3.9), and according to Football Outsiders, they had the 17th-best rushing attack in the league. Read more »
Fletcher Cox. (Jeff Fusco)
Fletcher Cox has been named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career, the NFL announced Tuesday night. The defensive end will be joined by Jason Peters and Darren Sproles for the game on January 31 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
This is Sproles’ second consecutive Pro Bowl as a return specialist and the eighth selection for Peters.
“It feels really great,” Cox said, according to the Eagles website. “I told myself before the season started that I needed to be better than last year. I had to make the whole world know and not just the local people. It all paid off.” Read more »
Photo by: Jeff Fusco
DeMarco Murray‘s long, strange winter of discontent continued in the Eagles’ 40-17 loss to the Cardinals, when the $40 million running back saw just eight offensive snaps, and carried the ball twice for three yards.
After attempting to ride Murray through early season struggles, it seems as if the Eagles’ coaches have taken a different approach over the last three games. After averaging 18 carries per game from Weeks 5 to 12, he has averaged seven carries in the team’s last three outings.
Pat Shurmur was asked about Murray’s diminishing workload before Tuesday’s practice, and the offensive coordinator reiterated that the team likes to have a platoon of running backs rather than a single workhorse, citing health as as main reason.
He also tried to distance Murray’s 2014 NFL Offensive Player of the Year status from what the running back has cobbled together this season.
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DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. (Jeff Fusco)
As DeMarco Murray’s snap counts and rushing attempts have dwindled in the last few weeks, he hit a now low by carrying the ball just twice in the Eagles’ loss last night. That number ties the fewest rushes he’s recorded in a game, and is the first time he’s done so since his rookie season in 2011.
“When we can run the football and get those guys carries, then we’re doing a good job, but we also have to be successful doing it,” Chip Kelly said today. “You’re just not going to run it for the sake of running it and average two yards a carry and then say, ‘At least we ran it enough and everybody got touches.’ It’s not about getting touches, it’s about winning and productivity.”
In Philadelphia’s 40-17 loss to Arizona, Murray totaled just three yards and wasn’t targeted in the passing game. Ryan Mathews carried the ball 11 times for 58 yards, while Darren Sproles had six rushes for nine yards. Mathews, who had the Eagles’ longest run of 20 yards, was the only running back who had a rush of more than three yards. Read more »