With the Eagles’ running back position suddenly in disarray, it looks like they are turning to Jay Ajayi.
Ajayi was in the NovaCare Complex building on Friday morning, head coach Doug Pederson confirmed, and then it became more clear why.
Just before Pederson’s 10:15 a.m. press conference, the Eagles announced that Darren Sproles suffered a torn right hip flexor in practice and is out for the season.
And, more importantly, Jordan Howard still hasn’t been cleared for contact from a stinger he suffered late in the Bears game nearly two weeks ago. That’s why he’s been limited in practice this week. He's questionable for Sunday.
“He’s been cleared to do some sort of individual work in practice, but he hasn’t been cleared for contact yet,” Pederson said. “That’s where he’s at.”
That means the Eagles’ only healthy running backs on the 53-man roster are Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. Sanders is the only healthy running back from the Eagles’ initial 53-man roster.
If Howard doesn’t get cleared for contact before Sunday, he obviously won’t play against the Patriots. Howard’s injury has been listed as a shoulder injury.
Pederson was asked if Howard’s injury is something that could linger.
“Again, you’re getting into the medical side of it,” he said. “I don’t know much about it other than he just hasn’t been cleared right now for the contact.”
The move to at least take a look at Ajayi is obviously linked to both of these injuries to Howard and Sproles. The hope here is obviously that Howard’s injury isn’t a long-term one, but signing Ajayi might put that into question.
Pederson also brought up DeAngelo Henderson, who is on the Eagles’ practice squad, as a possible roster addition before Sunday. It seems like either Henderson or Ajayi will be suiting up for the Eagles on Sunday.
As for Ajayi?
“I think he just had breakfast,” Pederson said. “I haven’t seen him yet this morning, so I’ll find out more about him later. We’ve been with our team all morning.”
Ajayi, 26, hasn’t played since tearing his ACL last October, so the Eagles obviously want to see what kind of shape he and that knee are in.
Sproles played in just six games this year. As the Eagles explained in an unusually detailed statement, Sproles missed games earlier in the season with a quad injury and was then cleared. He played again against the Bears and practiced Monday and Tuesday and reported the injury after Wednesday’s practice. Tests revealed the torn hip flexor muscle.
This could very well be the end of the 36-year-old’s career.
“I’ve learned this over my playing career and coaching in this league that it’s part of the game,” Pederson said. “It’s disappointing in Darren’s situation because of who he is as a person and what he’s meant to this organization, what he’s meant to this team. His leadership, he’s a Hall of Fame specialist in this league, really. I’m disappointed for him, more so than for the team, that he can’t continue.”