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Doug Pederson: It’s hard to take Darren Sproles off field right now

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 06: Darren Sproles #43 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs the ball against Coty Sensabaugh #30 of the New York Giants during the first quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on November 6, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

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After running back Ryan Mathews lost a fumble against the Vikings in Week Seven, Eagles coach Doug Pederson said that the team was “by no means” down on the veteran back.

Mathews saw his playing time drop from 26 snaps to eight in the team’s Week Eight loss to the Cowboys, but Pederson responded to questions about the back by saying he was still the lead guy in the team’s backfield. Mathews played another eight snaps against the Giants on Sunday while Darren Sproles played 60 after playing on 61 snaps against the Cowboys.

That suggests Pederson had an odd way of defining lead guy, although a Monday update on the backfield pecking order clears things up.

“By stats and by what you’re seeing, I would say that Darren is the No. 1 back right now,” Pederson said in comments distributed by the team. “You know, Ryan is still a big part [of the offense]; you saw the touchdown run that he had yesterday. Kenjon [Barner] had a nice run. Wendell [Smallwood] had a nice run. So it’s still a little bit of the running back by committee. Obviously, we haven’t hung our hat on one guy, but we tend to lean more towards Darren Sproles. It’s hard to take him off the field right now.”

Mathews had five carries and a catch on his eight snaps, so he does still have a role in the offense. It’s considerably smaller than the one Sproles is playing, however, and continuing to argue otherwise wouldn’t do Pederson much good.