There were plenty of smiling Eagles in the home locker room of the Linc after Monday night’s 28-13 win over the Redskins.
And every last one of them smiled a little wider when they were asked about Darren Sproles.
After rehabbing from a torn ACL from last season and then rehabbing from a lengthy hamstring injury, the Eagles’ do-it-all Mighty Mouse finally returned to action on Monday night and made an impact. He even scored his first touchdown since Dec. 22, 2016.
He had gone 710 days between touchdowns.
If there was any question before Monday night, it became incredibly clear just how much the 35-year-old running back means to the Eagles. His teammates couldn’t have possibly been any happier for him.
Nelson Agholor: “I was super excited. That’s my guy. Uncle Sproles, man. I’m super happy for him.”
Corey Clement: “Darren deserves a lot more. It’s definitely a blessing to see him back out there after so many weeks. The guy works hard week in and week out. Just to see him back out there happy and scoring, that’s the Sproles we know.”
Josh Adams: “We got 4-3 back. It was great to have him back out there. Obviously, he’s the leader of the (running back) room. It’s just great to see him working again and get in the end zone. You don’t have the words for it, but it’s exciting and can’t wait to see what he does next week.”
Jason Kelce: “That guy is such a good dude, a great teammate, and an unbelievable player. I think I speak for everybody in saying that we’re all really happy to have him back out there.”
Zach Ertz: “I’m so happy for Darren. He’s been through the gamut the past 11 weeks trying to get right. I’m proud of all the work he’s put in to this point. He could have easily called it quits and said, ‘Man, maybe this just isn’t for me anymore,’ but he really stuck to the process and found a way to get healthy. We need him. He’s a dynamic player and he’s really helpful for our football team.”
Malcolm Jenkins: “He’s been grinding to get back on the field. I know it’s been frustrating for him individually. He instantly makes our team better when he’s on the field and that was on full display today, not only on offense, but on special teams. For him to end up with a score was redemption for him and definitely a boost for us.”
Carson Wentz: “Having Darren back is awesome. He’s a little spark for us offensively. I was extremely stoked to see him get in the end zone. It seems like it’s been a little while since he’s been out there. It’s been a while since him and I have been out there together. Having him out there in the huddle, having him make some plays like he did, it definitely gives our offense a little motivation, a little spark. It was great to see.”
Sproles played just three games last season before he tore his ACL and broke his forearm on the same play. He didn’t want to end his career like that, so he rehabbed only to get hurt in practice after the opener this year. He had a nasty hamstring injury with setbacks that had sidelined him for the past 10 games.
Before he made his return on Monday night, it was clear how much it meant to him. As he walked off the field from early warmups, he put his hand out to give me a fist bump and I think I might have a bruise from it. He was completely locked in and focused. In fact, he said he had to work to temper his emotions.
It’s clear getting back in the end zone meant something to him.
“I don’t know, man,” he said. “It just felt so good, man, just to get in there. You know what I’m saying? To have a knee last year, then have a hamstring this year, it just felt great. It felt great to get in there.”
After the touchdown, head coach Doug Pederson made a point to go over and individually congratulate Sproles on the sideline. That’s something he doesn’t do very often. But, then again, Sproles isn’t an normal player.
He’s part of the heart and soul of the Eagles. That became more clear on Monday night.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.