Kenny Gainwell has had games this season where was the Eagles’ top running back. He’s had games where he’s been inactive or just an afterthought.
Through it all, the rookie has tried to take it in stride.
“I continue to play my role and do my thing,” Gainwell said this week. “I’m a guy that stays motivated throughout anything. I just take it day by day. I have a positive spirit about everything. I just come to work, do my job and continue to work.”
That’s good that Gainwell has stayed ready. Because there’s a good chance the Eagles are going to need him down the stretch.
As they enter a huge game against Washington on Sunday, Miles Sanders has already been ruled out with a broken hand. Jordan Howard is questionable with a stinger.
That leaves Boston Scott and Gainwell as the Eagles only healthy options head into a playoff-clinching scenario this weekend.
Gainwell thinks he’s ready.
“It’s next man up,” Gainwell said. “I’ve been ready since Week 1. I continue work hard.”
Early in the season, before the Eagles became a running powerhouse, Gainwell was getting a ton of work on offense. But more recently, aside from a 17-touch day against the Jets, it’s really dried up. Gainwell was inactive against the Saints and in the last two weeks has exactly one offensive touch.
Gainwell has continued to impress his coaches even when he hasn’t played. Nick Sirianni said that after the Saints game, Gainwell came up to him and said he’d do anything he could to help the team.
“You just admire that in guys that, even through a difficult time where he's inactive, he's still willing to do anything he needs to do to help the team,” Sirianni said. “He's still willing to do anything he needs to do to get himself better so he can help the team.”
Gainwell has really been a do-it-all type of player this season. He can line up in the backfield, in the slot, out wide. He can carry the ball, he can run routes. Whenever the Eagles have called on him, he’s answered. Heck, in recent weeks, he’s actually become the Eagles’ kick returners.
So it’s been an uneven season for the 22-year-old Gainwell. But it’s been a good one.
“I think I’ve done great,” Gainwell said. “Just being a rookie that can come in and do multiple things, in the slot, outside, out wide, in the backfield, running routes. I feel like I’ve put in a lot of work to come out with a great season as a rookie.”
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Gainwell has 569 all-purpose yards this year and 453 yards from scrimmage. Gainwell ranks 10th all-time in scrimmage yards for an Eagles rookie taken in the fifth round or later. And he has the most since Bryce Brown (620) back in 2012.
Gainwell admitted this has been a long season for him coming from college, but he’s gotten through it OK.
Even though he landed on the injury report with an ankle injury that happened on a kick return, Gainwell said he’s ready to go.
After waiting his turn earlier this year, he just wants to make the most of his opportunities.
“It’s a building thing, so you gotta build each and every day,” he said. “So when you’re not playing, learn from what’s going on when you’re not on the field, still continue to learn what you have to do. What’s the play? Gotta be locked in on each and every play because next week might be the same play so you gotta learn what you did then. Take it from that and build on it. I just continue to learn.”