Eagles

Darren Sproles can still help Eagles as long as Doug Pederson doesn't get carried away

Darren Sproles can still help Eagles as long as Doug Pederson doesn't get carried away

You probably know the reasons why it didn’t make sense to bring Darren Sproles back like they did on Friday evening. He’s too old. The team needs to get younger. They can’t rely on him to stay healthy. 

How’s this for one reason the Eagles were right to bring him back? 

He can help. 

Yeah, I know Sproles is 36. I know he’s played just nine regular-season games in the last two years. I know he had a minor hamstring injury that turned out to be a not-so-minor hamstring injury last year. 

I also know that the Eagles are better today than they were yesterday. Because as long as Doug Pederson doesn’t get carried way, Sproles can still help the Eagles in 2019. 

That is a key point, though. During his three years as head coach, we’ve seen Pederson at times rely on Sproles a little more than he probably should. If he does that this time around, it might not help. But if the Eagles can settle Sproles into a role where he’s a punt returner and a change-of-pace guy on offense (primarily as a pass-catching threat), this can definitely work. 

Pederson loves Sproles. He hasn’t tried to hide that. At the owners meetings this offseason, when asked about Sproles and the possibility of a return for one more season, Pederson said openly, “I would love to have Darren back.” 

Now that it has happened, it’s up to Pederson to not run his favorite veteran Swiss Army knife into the ground. 

And because the Eagles will enter this season with a former Pro Bowler in Jordan Howard, a second-round pick in Miles Sanders and a Super Bowl hero in Corey Clement also on the roster, it should suppress the temptation to over-play Sproles. 

Sproles will be the Eagles’ punt returner. He can play on third downs. He can be used as a utility-type receiver hybrid on offense. 

I’m thinking somewhere in the range of 8-10 touches max per game is about right.  

Nick Foles got an overwhelming amount of credit for helping the Eagles push their way into the playoffs last season, but Sproles deserves a ton of credit, too. After many had written him off when his severe hamstring injury lingered, Sproles came back in early December and gave the Eagles a spark that helped propel them into the postseason. 

In the last five regular-season games last year, Sproles had 110 rushing yards, 138 receiving yards and three offensive touchdowns. 

The Eagles were 5-1 with him in the regular season (4-1 down the stretch) in 2018 and 6-2 overall. 

And without him, they probably don’t win that Dec. 23 game at home against the Texans. In that one, Sproles became the oldest Eagle ever to have over 100 yards from scrimmage in a game. 

Sproles comes into this season just 162 all-purpose yards behind Tim Brown for fifth in NFL history. If he can stay healthy, he should have no problem easily overtaking Brown in 2019. 

And he might just help the Eagles make another run in the process. 

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Eagles at Falcons live: Highlights, analysis from NFL Week 1 game

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Eagles at Falcons live: Highlights, analysis from NFL Week 1 game

Stream Eagles at Falcons on NBC here

9:28 p.m.: The Falcons just scored the games first touchdown. Matt Ryan hit Calvin Ridley for a 34-yard touchdown over Ronald Darby. It’s pretty clear the Falcons are targeting Darby, who isn’t playing well. And Andrew Sendejo didn’t provide the help he was supposed to on that play. 

With 4:56 left in the half: Falcons 10, Eagles 3 

9:19 p.m.: We finally have an update on a couple more injured players. We already knew Dallas Goedert (calf) was questionable to return. 

Add two more to that list: 

The Eagles now have just three receivers — Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Mack Hollins — and one tight end (Zach Ertz) healthy. 

Matt Bryant just missed a 50-yard field goal to keep this game tied. 

9:08 p.m.: The Eagles just tied the game at 3-3 in the second quarter as Jake Elliott hit a 34-yard field goal. 

The Eagles are dealing with some injuries on offense to their skill position players. Dallas Goedert, Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson all have injuries. And now Jason Kelce is in the medical tent. If Kelce has to miss time, Isaac Seumalo would likely slide to center and Halapoulivaati Vaitai would likely play LG. 

8:48 p.m.: A really nice TFL from Derek Barnett and the Eagles forced their first punt of the game. Interesting that on third down, Josh  

8:38 p.m.: The Eagles were forced to punt on their first drive, but a nice punt from Cam Johnston and a heads up play from Mack Hollins pins the Falcons at their own 1-yard line. 

Dallas Goedert, who might have gotten hurt during warmups, did not see the field on that first drive. 

8:29 p.m.: The Falcons were moving down the field until Brandon Graham had a huge six-yard TFL and eventually the Eagles forced the Falcons into the first third down of the game. The Eagles’ sticks defense held up, but Matt Bryant hit a 50-yard field goal. Still, it looked like the Falcons were gonna score a touchdown in a hurry and the Eagles’ defense held. 

Still 9:28 left in the first: Falcons 3, Eagles 0 

8:05 p.m.: Dallas Goedert was spotted heading back inside during warmups. He was spotted by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark. 

That’s something to watch in this game. The Eagles came into this game with just two tight ends: Zach Ertz and Goedert. If Goedert is limited, expect to see a lot of Andre Dillard as a tight end/inline blocker. 

6:55 p.m.: The roof is indeed opening. 

6:54 p.m.: No surprises on the list of Eagles inactive players. In fact, the same seven from last week are inactive: 

Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee)
Jordan Mailata (back)
Nate Sudfeld (wrist)
Nate Herbig 
Matt Pryor 
Shareef Miller
Daeshon Hall 

6:40 p.m.: DeSean Jackson has taken the field.

And this is a good sign for Kamu Grugier-Hill, who's not wearing a brace.

6:20 p.m.: Carson Wentz is out on the field and getting ready.

4:47 p.m.: A quick look from the early games: The Giants lost to the Bills to fall to 0-2. 

And the Cowboys moved to 2-0 with a 31-21 win over the Redskins (0-2). That means the Eagles need to win tonight to keep pace with the Cowboys in the NFC East. Either way, this is becoming a two-team race like we all expected. Dak Prescott has now thrown for 674 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two games. He’s just the 11th quarterback all-time to put up those numbers in the first two games of a season. 

4:44 p.m.: I have arrived to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the second time in two days. This time, I’m really looking forward to the game. 

8:21 a.m.: Good morning, everyone! It’s going to be a long day of waiting for Sunday Night Football, but we should be in for a good game tonight. 

I got into Atlanta yesterday around noon and already saw a bunch of Eagles fans as I walked around town. I’d expect there to be a bunch at the game tonight. 

Last night, I got a chance to get a sneak peek at Mercedes-Benz Stadium a little early; I went to an Atlanta United game. The stadium is really cool; they did a good job. And for those going to the game, remember: the concession prices are really reasonable. That’s one of the coolest things about this new stadium. 

For those who were asking, the Falcons play on different turf than the Atlanta United and the soccer pitch is wider too, so more seats get put in. 

Enjoy watching all the afternoon games. In the meantime, here are our Eagles-Falcons predictions and five matchups to watch. 

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Eagles dealing with injuries to DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Dallas Goedert against Falcons

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Eagles dealing with injuries to DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Dallas Goedert against Falcons

Updated: 9:21 p.m. 

ATLANTA — The Eagles didn’t put up points in the first quarter and are dealing with some injuries on offense.

First, Dallas Goedert is questionable to play tonight with a calf injury he apparently sustained during warmups. Goedert was seen leaving warmups early and didn’t play at all in the fist quarter.

Goedert dealt with a calf injury during training camp, so it’s possible he re-aggravated that injury.

Alshon Jeffery has been on the sideline without a helmet and with a towel around his neck. He's questionable to return with a calf injury. 

And DeSean Jackson left the game for a bit and went into the blue medical tent. He got back in the game, but then was standing next to Jeffery on the sideline on a key third down. Jackson is questionable with a groin injury.

Because of injuries, we’ve already seen a heavy dose of JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Mack Hollins on offense.

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