Eagles Injury Update: Rookie RB Donnel Pumphrey tears hamstring

Eagles Injury Update: Rookie RB Donnel Pumphrey tears hamstring

Rookie running back Donnel Pumphrey probably wasn't going to play anytime soon.

Now he won't even have the chance.

During Wednesday's practice, Pumphrey tore his right hamstring on running play with the scout team. His rough rookie season hit yet another rough patch.

On Friday, the Eagles placed him on injured reserve, possibly ending his season. The Eagles could bring Pumphrey back after eight weeks if he is healthy enough, but they can do that with only two players this season. Kicker Caleb Sturgis could be one of them. Pumphrey said the doctors told him it's a four to six week injury, but he'll be out for at least eight. 

"It didn't really pull or anything," Pumphrey said on Friday. "It just felt like it grabbed twice. I did it twice in the same practice. And I was able to walk off the field and not limping or nothing. I got the MRI and they said it was torn." 

During training camp, Pumphrey had injured the same hamstring and was out for a few days. On Friday, he said while his hamstring felt better after the initial injury, he never lost the tightness in it.  

"It's definitely disappointing," Pumphrey said. "Gotta deal with it." 

Even when he was healthy, Pumphrey wasn't very good. In fact, had he not been a fourth-round pick, he probably wouldn't have made the team. The Eagles did something very rare to keep him: they kept five running backs.

The hope was to develop the 5-foot-9, 176-pound running back while keeping him inactive on game days. That plan is now obviously on hold.  

"Well, it'll set him back because he won't be able to run and do all the things that we want him to do," Pederson said. "It's unfortunate. We know it's part of the game but we'll keep him plugged in, in the meeting rooms and around the team and keep him plugged in that way."

Pumphrey is one of three players who has already been ruled out for Sunday's game in Kansas City. The other two are Ronald Darby (ankle) and Destiny Vaeao (wrist). Darby is obviously out for a while with a dislocated ankle; Pederson said Darby is "week to week."

With Vaeao out, there's a chance rookie sixth-round pick Elijah Qualls might play. As the fourth-string defensive tackle, Vaeao got 12 snaps in the opener.  

"There's a chance," Pederson said about Vaeao's possibly playing. "We've worked him this week in practice. He definitely has an opportunity to play in this game, sure."

Thanks to the hip injury to Caleb Sturgis, who is on IR, this Sunday will be the debut of kicker Jake Elliott. Elliott was a fifth-round pick of the Bengals, but the Eagles signed him earlier this week.

Pederson said he has been impressed with the new kicker during the week of practice and having Elliott instead of Sturgis won't affect his decision-making.

"That's a great question because that's something we discussed during the week," Pederson said. "This place Arrowhead, the winds obviously can be, they can swirl around in this place. I just have to trust my gut and trust my instinct and trust the players. I've said that all along. I can't go in here second-guessing myself or a decision. I have to pull the trigger. If I feel like we're going to kick a field goal, then we'll kick it. It's not going to change my decision-making one way or the other."

No team has built a CB group quite like Eagles

Photo: Dave Zangaro/NBCSP

No team has built a CB group quite like Eagles

For generations, the Eagles couldn't find one promising young cornerback. Now they have a whole stable of them.
And in the NFL, young means cheap.
The Eagles were able to allow 30-year-old Patrick Robinson to leave via free agency after an extraordinary season for five reasons: Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Ronald Darby and Daryl Worley.
To win consistently in the NFL, teams have to draft well because having a significant number of talented players on bargain-basement rookie contracts is the only realistic way for a contending team to stay under the salary cap.
The younger players essentially subsidize the high-priced stars.
And the Eagles' five young corners — Jones is 21, Douglas is 22, Worley and Mills are 23 and Darby just turned 24 — are all talented but most importantly, they're all still on their rookie contracts.
Jones, Douglas, Worley, Mills and Darby have a combined 2018 salary cap figure of $4,529,400.
Or less than Robinson's $5 million signing bonus with the Saints.
The Eagles drafted Jones and Douglas in the second and third rounds last year and Mills in the seventh round in 2016. Darby, who came to the Eagles last summer in the Jordan Matthews deal, was the Bills' second-round pick in 2015, and Worley, who the Eagles acquired last week from the Panthers in the Torrey Smith deal, was Carolina's third-round pick in 2016.
Here are the 2018 cap figures for the Eagles' five young corners:
$1,395,475 — Sidney Jones
$1,058,139 — Ronald Darby
$   756,572 — Rasul Douglas
$   670,000 — Daryl Worley
$   649,214 — Jalen Mills
Jones is the Eagles' highest-paid corner but only their 28th highest-paid player.
Darby's deal is up after this year. The Eagles have Mills and Worley under contract through 2019 and Jones and Douglas through 2020.
So they can stay cheap at corner for years.
According to Overthecap.com, the Eagles have the sixth-highest defensive payroll in the NFL but the third-lowest cornerback payroll, ahead of only the Packers and Colts.
The Eagles are devoting just 3.03 percent of their adjusted $177,714,409 salary cap to cornerbacks, per Spotrac.
Only the Colts (2.96 percent) are devoting a lower percentage of their 2018 cap to cornerbacks.
So the Eagles basically have young, cheap cornerbacks to offset the massive contracts they gave players like Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins, Brandon Brooks, and Zach Ertz.
The Eagles actually have 11 players under contract who, by themselves, have a higher 2018 cap figure than all the Eagles' cornerbacks combined.
None of this works if the young corners can't play. But Mills had a breakthrough season for the Super Bowl champs, Darby proved to be a speedy playmaker (although a bit inconsistent) when healthy, Douglas was solid while Darby was hurt and Jones could be the best of all.
Worley is the new guy and said Monday he can play anywhere — inside, outside, safety — and that's the key. All these corners are versatile, which gives Jim Schwartz (and Howie Roseman) a lot of flexibility.
How will they all line up next year? Too early to say, but it's easy to envision a scenario where Darby and Jones are outside, Mills is in the slot, Worley is the backup to all three spots and Douglas converts to safety, where the Eagles have little depth.
Or the Eagles could dangle Darby — whose contract is up after 2018 — and try to recoup a missing third-round pick.
And get even younger and cheaper.

Daryl Worley was last to know he was heading home

USA Today Images

Daryl Worley was last to know he was heading home

Sometimes Paradise doesn’t have great cell service. That’s one of the reasons it’s paradise. 

So back on March 9, when the Panthers traded Daryl Worley to the Eagles, Daryl Worley was one of the last to find out. See, when the trade went down, the 23-year-old cornerback was on vacation in the Bahamas. More specifically, he was on a short boat cruise over crystal blue water as a wave of messages flooded his phone. 

While his family and friends in his hometown were celebrating his return back to Philadelphia, Worley was blissfully unaware. 

Until the boat got back to shore. 

“My phone just lit up,” the cornerback said on Monday afternoon at his introductory press conference in Philly. “And I read the text messages, and I thought people were joking.” 

They weren’t. The Eagles shipped Torrey Smith and his bloated contract to Carolina and in return, the Panthers were willing to give up Worley, whom they drafted in the third round out of West Virginia in 2016. Worley was inundated with missed calls and text messages, many from loved ones in Philadelphia, still his home in the offseason. But his first phone call was to his father, Kenneth, who was “very emotional about the situation.” 

Worley’s parents still live in the same North Philadelphia neighborhood — near Temple University Hospital — where he was raised and where he grew up as an Eagles fan. 

Playing football as a youngster and then at Penn Charter, Worley was a two-way player; a safety on defense and a wide receiver on offense. So it shouldn’t be too big of a shock that he said his favorite Eagles player of all time is Terrell Owens. Worley was 15 days shy of his 10th birthday when he watched Owens play in — and nearly help the Eagles win — Super Bowl XXXIX. Owens and Worley stand in stark juxtaposition in Eagles history. While Owens was overly outspoken, Worley’s high school coach described his former player as a really quiet guy (see story).  

Still, it shouldn’t be too difficult for Worley to fit into the Eagles’ locker room. He’ll join several of his college teammates in Philly. He was in the same defensive backfield as Rasul Douglas for two seasons at West Virginia. He considers Wendell Smallwood one of his closest friends. And he was freshman roommates with Shelton Gibson; Worley claims he was the cleaner of the two. 

Sure, there might be some hurdles for Worley as he plays in Philly, but he understands that. He’s prepared to be pulled in several different directions.  

“Coming back home to things like this, there’s going to be a lot more asked of me, on the field and off the field,” he said, “but with that being said, I have a great support group around me and I know I have a great group of guys so anything I may need or ask for I know they’ll be able to help me with it.”

Worley isn’t sure what his role will be with the Eagles and he probably won’t know (at the earliest) until offseason workouts begin in April. Until then, he’s going to do as much film study as possible as he settles back into life where he grew up. 

Philly isn’t exactly paradise — it’s about to snow in March — but Worley is home, he gets to play for the team he rooted for as a kid. And besides, cell phones can be turned off.