Ryan Mathews Injury: Eagles Running Back Out For Season

Ryan Mathews' Eagles career is likely over.

Ryan Mathews. (Jeff Fusco)

Ryan Mathews. (Jeff Fusco)

Eagles running back Ryan Mathews is out for the season after suffering a “significant” neck injury during Philadelphia’s Week 16 victory over the New York Giants. Doug Pederson offered an update on Mathews during the head coach’s Friday press conference.

“He’s got a herniated disc,” said Pederson. “It’s a C6 and C7. So it looks like [he] could miss some significant time with this. It’s a pretty significant injury. Probably going to miss next week and the rest of the year. That’s a pretty major deal.”

“I don’t think it’s career [threatening],” added Pederson. “Again, I don’t have all the information right now. What I got from our doctors this morning is that it looks like surgery is in the near future. Just has to get fixed.”

Pederson said Mathews suffered the injury on the third down before the Eagles attempted a fourth-and-goal conversion near the goal-line. Mathews wasn’t able to score on the fourth down play.

There’s a very real chance the oft-injured Mathews has played his last snap for the Eagles. Mathews served as the Eagles’ lead back this season, but he’s set to enter the final year of his contract in 2017. The Eagles can save $4 million in cap space by either releasing or trading Mathews this offseason.

Pederson wouldn’t speculate on Mathews’ future with the team.

“I think that Ryan obviously got off to a good start and then there was a little bit of a lull in the middle [of the season] and he finished up strong,” said Pederson. “That’s kind of been the nature of the season for him. He’s really — these last couple of weeks — he’s kind of been our workhorse at the running back position. Did some really good things for us. This obviously is unfortunate now that he can’t finish the season for us.”

“I’m not going to speculate on any of that kind of stuff right now. We’ll save all those for the offseason and wait until that time to make any decisions.”

Mathews, 29, finished the season with 155 carries for 661 yards and eight touchdowns. Since 2010, he’s one of only three NFL running backs to have five seasons with at least six rushing scores. The other two players: Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch.

With Mathews out for Week 17, the Eagles are down to only two healthy running backs on the active roster: Darren Sproles and Byron Marshall. The Eagles had to place Kenjon Barner on the injured reserve list last week. Rookie fifth-round pick Wendell Smallwood also ended up on IR earlier this month.

The Eagles’ Week 17 game figures to be meaningless since the Eagles have already been eliminated from the playoffs and the Cowboys have already clinched home field advantage, but the Birds might need to make a roster move to get through the final game. The 33-year-old Sproles obviously isn’t a lead back type and Marshall is an undrafted rookie free agent who spent most of the season on the practice squad.

One option the Eagles could consider is promoting practice squad running back Terrell Watson to the active roster. The Eagles signed him to their scout team last week.

“It’s tough,” said Pederson. “We’ll take a look at it. We’ve got time, obviously, with the weekend and the players won’t be back until Tuesday. We’ve got time to see if anyone else is available. If not, then by no means would [we] hesitate to bring Watson up and have him as an emergency third running back for next week.”

In other injury news, Allen Barbre couldn’t finish Thursday’s game after his hamstring tightened up. The Eagles had Stefen Wisniewski fill in at left guard.

Jaylen Watkins suffered a concussion and won’t be able to return until his passes through the NFL’s mandatory protocol. Terrence Brooks filled in for Watkins against New York and recorded the game-sealing interception for Philadelphia.

Jordan Hicks (ankle), Jordan Matthews (ankle), and Isaac Seumalo (ankle) are all sore but should be ready to play against the Cowboys on New Year’s Day.

Pederson also said the Eagles “expect a little more out of” Halapoulivaati Vaitai after the rookie missed some time due to a knee injury.