Plenty of people counted Darren Sproles out this season.
Why even bother bringing him back? Why doesn’t he just retire? Why keep him around?
We’ve been getting our answers to those questions over the past few weeks. Sproles is 35, but he’s not playing like it. With fresh legs, he’s become a major contributor during the last few Eagles’ games and he did it again in a major way in Sunday’s 32-30 win over the Texans (see Roob's observations).
The crazy thing is, Sproles was actually one of those people who wondered if he’d be able to return this season.
“(It means) a lot,” he said. “Because there was a time where I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to come back. But to have the role I had tonight, man, it felt great.”
On Sunday afternoon, Sproles carried the ball nine times for 32 yards, including a huge 16-yarder to set up the game-winning field goal, and had three catches for 76 yards.
At 35 years and 186 days old, Darren Sproles became the oldest Eagles player ever to go for over 100 yards from scrimmage in a game.
“That guy is an incredible player, incredible teammate, one of the best guys I’ve ever played with,” Jason Kelce said. “I’m always happy whenever he’s out there. For him to continue to do things the way he’s doing them with the injuries he’s had over the last year and a half … awesome. I don’t think I’m more excited for any guy.”
It was actually Sproles who got the scoring started Sunday. Nick Foles hit him for a 37-yard touchdown in the first quarter on 4th-and-2.
That play is such a good example of what makes Sproles special. He’s just impossible to cover and is so hard to bring down, even though he’s 5-foot-6.
“S—, man, even at 35, 36, he’s a mismatch for linebackers, man,” Brandon Brooks said. “They just can’t cover him. Anything you ask him to do. Even as a smaller guy, dude can sit in there and block way bigger guys. He can do it all, even at 35, beating Father Time.”
Lane Johnson on Sunday night began to praise Sproles and the irony of what he was saying wasn’t lost on Johnson. He said Sproles is a true professional and someone “you can look up to.” The idea of his mammoth teammates looking up to one of the shortest guys in the NFL is funny, but not off. Johnson said Sproles always gives it his all during games, practice and even walkthroughs.
Nothing Sproles does seems to surprise his teammates anymore. Johnson said that’s been the case for him since he saw Sproles bench press 405 pounds.
But if you ask every player in that locker room for their favorite teammates, Sproles won’t be far down that list.
Before this season, after rehabbing from a torn ACL, Sproles announced this would be his last in the NFL. But after missing much of this year with a serious hamstring injury, it’s time to wonder if he’s rethinking that position. He won’t say.
“I’m just going to take it one game at a time,” Sproles said. “We have one more game left."
Selfishly, I hope he has a few more left in him. He’s just fun to watch.
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