darren sproles

Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

Remember when the Eagles lost Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles and plenty of folks thought the season was over? 

Doug Pederson does. 

Sure, this isn't exactly an apples-to-oranges comparison. Losing a left tackle or a middle linebacker or a running back isn't the same thing as losing an MVP-level quarterback entering his prime. It would be unfair to suggest they're the same. 

But Pederson has seen his team hurdle over every obstacle this year. With the biggest one yet now in front of it, it's his job to convince his team it can do it again. 

On Monday, Pederson tried to convince fans who have prematurely canceled Christmas. 

"To the fans out there, you can't lose faith," Pederson said. "This has been a resilient football team all season long. If there's ever an opportunity for me as a head football coach to rally the troops, now might be the time. 

"We just came off a tremendous victory to win the NFC East. Guys are riding extremely high. It's a little bittersweet. But you know what? We've got the Giants this week and we've got an opportunity to ... if you win Sunday, you get a first-round bye. There's still a lot to play for. That's what's exciting about this season. We're still playing for the opportunity to hopefully be in that game."

Pederson, just after delivering news of a torn ACL, was adamant that his team can overcome the loss of Carson Wentz

"It sure can," he said. "Heck yeah." 

It won't be easy. Before leaving Sunday's game, Wentz threw his 33rd touchdown pass of the 2017 season, breaking the Eagles' franchise record that had stood since 1961. But more than touchdown passes, Wentz made special plays seemingly every week, plays that only a handful of quarterbacks in the world can make. 

Nick Foles is a pretty adequate backup, and he did a nice job when called upon against the Rams. But he ain't Carson Wentz. Everyone, including his teammates, knows that. 

It's just that they don't have time to wallow in the loss of their superstar leader. Next weekend might be huge. 

A win against the Giants would earn the Eagles a first-round bye. A win against the Giants, paired with a Vikings loss, would earn them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. After another obstacle was dropped in front of them on Monday morning, the Eagles can still help themselves. 

Pederson's role in all this is vital. He has to be the guy to hold it all together.  

"It's huge," he said. "I think even the guys felt it after the game yesterday. We just rally and we support the next guy. From my standpoint, you don't waver, man. You don't let people see you sweat, you just put your head down and you go to work. You get everybody ready to play. It was evident yesterday when Carson was out of the game, you saw Nick come in and come back and lead us to victory in that game. That right there is a great step in the right direction."

Darren Sproles 'can't end like this,' leaning toward playing in 2018

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Darren Sproles 'can't end like this,' leaning toward playing in 2018

ANAHEIM, Calif. — There was an old friendly face on the practice field at Angel Stadium in Southern California on Wednesday afternoon. 

Darren Sproles was back with his teammates. 

On injured reserve with a broken forearm and torn ACL (he suffered both on the same play), the veteran running back has been rehabbing in his home of San Diego but joined the Eagles for practice this week. 

In a short video preview retweeted by the Eagles on Thursday, Sproles hinted toward what his future might hold. 

"I don't have to play next year, but I'm leaning towards coming back," Sproles said. "I can't end like this." 

Sproles, 34, will become a free agent after this season, so the Eagles would need to re-sign him if they want him in 2018. It might seem unwise to sign a running back who will be 35 when next season starts, but Sproles has defied aging so far. 

And the Eagles have clearly missed the dynamic he brought to the offense. Sproles' ability to catch out of the backfield has been missing since he went down. Wendell Smallwood is the Eagles' leading receiver among running backs and he doesn't even dress on game days anymore. 

Sproles is obviously a fan favorite in Philadelphia and for good reason. He's a dynamic player who stands on the short side of 5-foot-6. 

During Wednesday's practice, Sproles was on the field wearing a black sleeve on his left leg. He stood with running backs coach Duce Staley and even helped with some of the running back drills. 

Even though he has been living in California, Sproles has kept in contact with his teammates, much like the other members of the Eagles who are on IR.

Jason Peters, Darren Sproles still engaged, contributing for Eagles

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Jason Peters, Darren Sproles still engaged, contributing for Eagles

Jason Peters and Darren Sproles may be out for the season, yet Eagles coaches say the injured vets are continuing to find ways to make an impact.

The Eagles have been unlucky to lose not only star players, but also tremendous leaders to injuries this season. At the same time, the Eagles are incredibly fortunate to have guys like Peters, Sproles, Jordan Hicks and Chris Maragos who aren’t content to simply fade into the background until next year.

Take Peters, for example. Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland revealed the nine-time Pro Bowl selection has been instrumental in preparing second-year player Halapoulivaati Vaitai to take over at left tackle.

“I lean on Jason Peters a little bit too with that,” Stoutland said Tuesday. “I’d send him some video and he would look at it, and we’d be on a Skype or whatever and he would say, ‘Hey, make sure you tell him this.’”

Even a fifth-year NFL veteran like Lane Johnson at right tackle can benefit from Peters’ pointers from afar.

“He’s got a great eye for that stuff,” Stoutland said. “It keeps him involved and he’s good at it. He’s a master at it for so many years, so I think he also has helped Lane and V with some of that stuff.”

Peters is home rehabbing from torn ACL and MCL tendons in his right knee but consults with Stoutland regularly. Not surprisingly, the future Hall of Famer identifies something on a “weekly” basis that will help his teammates.

“It’s good for those guys, too, to hear another voice other than mine,” Stoutland said.

Some of the Eagles’ wounded are taking a more hands-on approach. Hicks may be sidelined by a ruptured Achilles, but it sounds as though he’s preparing as if he were going to line up at middle linebacker in any given week.

“Jordan comes into our meeting room,” Eagles linebackers coach Ken Flajole said. “He’s there, and if you saw him, he takes notes like he’s going to play.

“He studies a lot of the tape when we’re in a meeting, and I think he sees things. Then I’m sure when he gets back in the locker room, he passes on little tips to people, says, ‘Hey, this is what I saw in this formation, and maybe we can cheat our alignment here.’”

Hicks is somebody the Eagles literally couldn’t keep out of the building if they tried.

“He wants to be a part of it,” Flajole said. “I kidded around with him a little bit. I said, ‘Are you driving your wife nuts now,’ and he says, ‘Yeah, kind of, coach. I need to get out of the house. She wants me here, and I want to be here.’”

Watch closely during any Eagles game, and you’ll see Maragos actively taking part in any way he can.

Maragos’ season was ended by a ton PCL. That hasn’t prevented the special teams captain and ace from walking out to the middle of the field for the coin toss before games or pumping up his teammates on the sideline.

“Chris Maragos is in half our meetings if he’s not rehabbing, and then he’ll be on the field on game day,” special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said. “He’s breaking the huddle half the time before kickoffs.”

Fipp works closely with both Maragos and Sproles, the latter of whom reaches out to replacement return specialist Kenjon Barner on a regular basis.

“Those guys love being around it, and they do a great job helping the younger guys out,” Fipp said. “That’s why Chris is a captain. Same with Darren Sproles. They have the respect of all their teammates, and part of getting that respect is probably because, along the way, they’ve helped all those guys out at some point.”

Nursing a torn ACL and a broken forearm, Sproles isn’t always in the building or around his teammates. Even in that situation, the 13-year veteran commands so much respect, he’s still able to lead by example.

“He was our leader, and every now and then if he’s here he’ll come and stick his head in,” Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley said. “A lot of those guys follow those footsteps, which is awesome. You couldn’t pick a better guy to lead your group than him.

“Some of those guys, they look at him, they look up to him, all the things he’s been through, how long he’s lasted. Ideally, a lot of those guys want to be him, so they talk to him, they study Sproles, they study his eating habits. Eating, sleeping, everything.

“When you have a leader like that in the room, and he’s able to rub off on some of the other guys, they take ownership and they try to lead the younger guys that way.”

Sproles is 34. Peters turns 36 in January. There is some question as to whether either player will return from their injuries to play in 2018.

If either man plans on or would consider walking away, they’re certainly not ready to call it quits quite. In fact, whatever success this Eagles team enjoys in 2017 — be that a trip to the Super Bowl, or anything else — Peters, Sproles, Hicks and Maragos all seem determined to play a role in that.