Eagles

Darren Sproles isn't done just yet, will return to Eagles on one-year deal

Darren Sproles isn't done just yet, will return to Eagles on one-year deal

The Eagles just got a little bit older and a lot more exciting.

The Eagles on Friday evening re-signed 36-year-old running back Darren Sproles, who was mulling retirement when last year ended but apparently wants to play one more year (at least).

"My heart is in Philly," Sproles said on the team's web site. "That's where I want to end my career. That team, the city is like a family. I really want to go out on top. That's what I really want to do. I can't wait to get back with the guys."

Sproles, who became an unrestricted free agent when last year ended, spent the last five years with the Eagles and made the Pro Bowl in 2014, 2015 and 2016 before being limited by injuries to just nine games over the last two seasons.

Although he ranks sixth in NFL history in all-purpose yards, Sproles was limited in 2017 to just three games and 22 touches and missed the Super Bowl run thanks to a broken arm and torn ACL he suffered against the Giants and last year was limited to just six games and 44 touches because of a nagging hamstring injury.

He did return last year for the postseason but averaged just 1.6 yards on 16 carries with 5-for-35 receiving and one punt return for minus-one yard in the games against the Bears and Saints.

In his first three seasons with the Eagles, Sproles netted 1,084 rushing yards, 147 catches for 1,202 more yards and 14 offensive touchdowns along with four punt return TDs.

Because the Eagles are deep at running back, it’s likely Sproles’ main role will be as a punt returner.

He led the NFL with a 13.0 average in 2014 and his 12.1 average since the start of 2014 is highest in the NFL among returners with at least 50 returns.

The Eagles also re-signed DeSean Jackson this past offseason, and Jackson — like Sproles — is a former NFL punt return leader (with the Eagles in 2009) and also has four career punt return TDs. But he’s not expected to be their full-time punt returner.

Only seven players in NFL history have four career punt return touchdowns and 8,300 career yards from scrimmage, and the Eagles now have two of them in Jackson and Sproles. (The others are Joey Galloway, Antonio Brown, Reggie Bush, Henry Ellard and Steve Smith).

Sproles ranks sixth in NFL history with 19,520 all-purpose yards. He trails only Jerry Rice (23,546), former Eagle Brian Mitchell (23,330), Walter Payton (21,803), Emmitt Smith (21,564) and Tim Brown (19,682). All are Hall of Famers except Mitchell (who should be).

Sproles has 3,486 rushing yards, a 4.9 average, 547 catches, 4,816 receiving yards, a 9.6 average with seven touchdowns on punt returns and a 25.2 average with two touchdowns on kick returns.

Of the 48 players in NFL history with 3,000 rushing yards and 3,000 receiving yards, Sproles’ 4.9 career rushing average is highest.

His nine combined punt and kick returns are tied for sixth-most in NFL history behind Devin Hester (19), Mitchell (13), Dante Hall (12), Eric Metcalf (12), Josh Cribbs (11).

Sproles enters a crowded backfield that also includes rookie second-round pick Miles Sanders, former Bear Jordan Howard, who was acquired in a trade, Super Bowl hero Corey Clement, 2018 Eagles leading rusher Josh Adams, former Saint Boston Scott and 2016 fifth-round pick Wendell Smallwood.

The Eagles are scheduled to report for training camp at the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday with the first practice following on Thursday.

Sproles originally entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick out of Kansas State in 2005. He was with the Chargers for six years and the Saints for three before signing with the Eagles in 2014. 

If Sproles scores a touchdown this year, he’ll become the oldest player in franchise history to do so.

The oldest Eagle ever to score a touchdown is Irving Fryar, who was 36 years and 76 days old when he scored against the Cards on Dec. 13, 1998.

Sproles will be 36 years and 100 days when the Eagles open the regular season against the Redskins on Sept. 8.

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Some thoughts on the latest anonymously sourced report about Eagles’ offense

Some thoughts on the latest anonymously sourced report about Eagles’ offense

A day after ESPN’s Josina Anderson quoted an anonymous Eagles player upset the team didn’t land cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Anderson is now reporting on some frustration brewing about the offense. 

Here’s what Anderson said on NFL Live on Thursday afternoon: 

“With the team being 3-3, obviously, an Eagles source also talked to me about how they feel like that offense is functioning. One of the things that they said is, ‘We need to make bleep simpler. Sometimes we just need to handle what is manageable.’ They said, ‘Even Peyton Manning knew when to check it down.’ Carson Wentz right now is 38 percent on passes that travel 15 air yards, has three interceptions on passes like that, which is tied for most in the league. He also has 148 passes on those that are 10 yards or fewer. Right now, he has nine touchdowns and zero interceptions on passes like that. So I do think it is an apt point.” 

While the specific criticism doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, I suppose it is newsworthy that there’s criticism of Carson Wentz and maybe (?) Doug Pederson at all. 

But the whole thing seems a little strange. Here are some thoughts on the report, its contents and what it means:

1. The actual criticism doesn’t make much sense to me. Who has watched this team over the past month and thought, ‘Hey, they really ought to check down more!’? The biggest problem with this offense since DeSean Jackson has been missing is the lack of a downfield passing game. And this source wants Wentz to check down more? It doesn’t add up. The stats are also kind of weird. Of course more interceptions happen on passes with lower probability rates. 

2. And … “Even Peyton Manning knew when to check down.” Even the most cerebral quarterback in NFL history knew what to do? Is that what we’re saying here? I guess maybe this means that even the best quarterbacks don’t take deep shots all the time, but Wentz really hasn’t done that this year. In fact, he’s 10th in the league in air yards per attempt. 

3. While the exact criticism seems strange, it is still probably noteworthy that there’s any criticism or frustration at all, and that someone felt strongly enough to leak those thoughts to a reporter. It’s not the first time we’ve seen anonymous source(s) speak critically of Wentz and/or the offense. 

4. And this isn’t the first time Anderson has reported on frustration within the Eagles locker room. Last year, there was a report that one player thought Wentz was “over-targeting Zach Ertz.” 

It would be speculation to assume this is the same player, but it seems like Anderson has become a sounding board of sorts for frustrations about the offense. 

5. Source-guessing isn’t worth it. I’m sure everyone has their hunches on who said what and I’m sure the Eagles and Wentz would like to know, but it’s a pointless exercise. 

6. The only thing more pointless than source-guessing is going back to the Wentz vs. Foles debate. Nick Foles is gone. The Eagles are Wentz’s team. 

7. If this is supposed to be a criticism of Wentz, I don’t really understand it. Could he play better? Sure. But he’s so far down on the list of Eagles’ problems this season. He hasn’t been the one dropping passes or fumbling the ball or getting burnt by deep passes. In fact, he’s played pretty well, considering all that. I also give him credit for how well he’s handled these anonymous criticisms in the past. He’ll probably handle this one the same way.

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Eagles Injury Update: Nigel Bradham misses practice again ahead of Cowboys game

Eagles Injury Update: Nigel Bradham misses practice again ahead of Cowboys game

Nigel Bradham on Thursday missed his second straight practice because of an ankle injury, which is not a good sign for his possible availability Sunday night in Dallas. 

Bradham injured his ankle in the loss to Minnesota. On Wednesday, he limped through the locker room with his left ankle wrapped. 

If Bradham doesn’t play this weekend and without Zach Brown, who was cut on Monday, the Eagles’ top linebackers are likely to be Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nathan Gerry and undrafted rookie T.J. Edwards. The Eagles also have Duke Riley and recently called up Alex Singleton. 

DeSean Jackson (abdomen) wasn’t practicing either. It’s looking like a long shot that he’ll be able to play against Dallas. 

Here's the official injury report: 

Cox (illness) returned after missing Wednesday. He’ll be good to go this weekend. 

Darby (hamstring) was a limited participant to start the week, but he was able to practice again on Thursday, again as a limited participant. 

Mills (foot) is not active yet, but there’s an open roster spot waiting for him if he’s able to return this week. Since he’s not on the 53-man roster, he’s not required to be on the injury report. It’s a good sign that he was practicing again today. 



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