Jordan Howard is one of only 21 players in NFL history with 3,300 rushing yards, 24 rushing TDs and a 4.3 average in his first three seasons.
Most of the others are in the Hall of Fame.
Howard is fighting for a roster spot.
“Definitely, it’s humbling,” Howard said. “I feel like I took things for granted earlier in my career, so I’m just trying to get back and get a foothold in this game again. It’s definitely motivating me and pushing me. I didn’t appreciate the game as much, maybe.”
Howard is only 26, but he’s already gone from Pro Bowler and two-time 1,000-yard rusher with the Bears to a very good half season with the Eagles in 2019 to a disastrous stint last year with the Dolphins and back to Philly.
Howard signed a two-year, $9.75 million contract with the Dolphins last year, only to have offensive coordinator Chan Gailey tell him this: “The offensive coordinator told me I didn’t really fit the offense,” he said. “That was a surprise to me. … I wasn’t in the best mindset. I kind of let it get to me.”
Howard pocketed nearly $5 million from the Dolphins but lasted only five games, averaging just 1.2 yards on 28 carries, mainly in short-yardage situations. He was released in November.
“Last year was definitely trying,” he said. “Made you question yourself a little bit. But last year’s in the past so I just had to go to work. I’m focused on what I can control now.”
Howard, who played briefly in two late-season games for the Eagles last year, is in a strange position, competing for a roster spot not long after being the guy.
“I just want to show that I can do everything,” he said. “I don’t want to be pigeonholed into one position. Tried to come in the best shape I could just to give myself a chance to be able to do those things.
“You can only play this game for so long, so might as well give it all you’ve got while you’re playing. Don’t take any shortcuts.
Here’s the thing.
Howard looks good.
He’s still got an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster in a crowded running back room, but if the goal is reviving his once-promising career, he’s off to a good start.
“Jordan looks great, man,” Boston Scott said. “Honestly, he came back looking the best that I’ve ever seen him look. He’s been moving the best that I’ve seen him move. I’m excited for him, I’m excited he’s getting an opportunity.
“He’s a lead-by-example type guy, so I just watch the way he works, watch some of the things that he does in the run game that I can build off, that I can bring to my game because at one point he was the top rusher in the league, and I know he has that in him and I believe in him.”
There’s Miles Sanders, Scott and Kenny Gainwell, who are roster locks. There’s Kerryon Johnson, a promising waiver claim pickup. There’s Jason Huntley, who’s had a very good camp.
This is a crowded position group, and it’s hard to figure out where Howard fits in, although none of the other backs have his experience, and his inside power running ability does set him apart.
Can he be the guy he was from 2016 through 2019? Can he be anywhere close to that?
“I feel like I’m getting back to there,” he said. “A little bit better. Definitely feel like I still got it. We’re going to wait and see until we get to the games, but I like where I am right now.”
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast: