With Jay Ajayi playing more, one Eagles RB lost snaps

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With Jay Ajayi playing more, one Eagles RB lost snaps

Jay Ajayi keeps playing more and more. So someone had to lose snaps. 

On Sunday against the Giants, that someone was rookie Corey Clement. 

Clement played just 10 snaps in the Eagles' 34-29 win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium. It was the fewest snaps he's played since the Carolina game back on Oct. 12, when he also played 10 snaps. 

While Clement didn't play a ton, he got the ball on half of his snaps. He had four carries for 17 yards and one catch for one yard. 

For the third straight week, Ajayi led the Eagles' running backs in snaps. He's clearly getting in rhythm as the Eagles' top back (see story). He played 35 of 68 offensive snaps (51 percent) against the Giants. He was followed by LeGarrette Blount (17 snaps), Clement (10) and Kenjon Barner (6). 

The entire offensive line and Nick Foles played all 68 snaps. That includes Chance Warmack, who started in place of the injured Stefen Wisniewski. 

Trey Burton played just 11 snaps, his fewest in a game since the Chargers game in Week 4. But he made the most of them, catching a wide open touchdown in the second quarter. Zach Ertz played 60 snaps, Brent Celek played 23. 

On defense, Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod and Nigel Bradham didn't leave the field, playing all 88 snaps. 

The 88 snaps the defense played was easily the most of the season. The previous high was 82 against the Panthers. The Eagles' defense couldn't get off the field and gave up 504 total yards to Eli Manning and the Giants (see story). The 88 snaps was the second-highest total under Jim Schwartz. The only other time with more was 89 against the Giants in their second meeting last year. 

After Patrick Robinson with a concussion left after 47 snaps, veteran safety Corey Graham ended up playing 54 snaps (61 percent) and made the clinching play at the end (see story). That's the most he's played all season. He played just 10 snaps last week.  

Najee Goode got eight snaps at linebacker in the team's base package. That was a little surprising because Joe Walker returned from injury. Walker didn't get on the field on defense. 

Here are full snap counts: 

Lane Johnson - 68 snaps (100 percent)
Halapoulivaati Vaitai - 68 (100)
Chance Warmack - 68 (100)
Brandon Brooks - 68 (100)
Jason Kelce - 68 (100)
Nick Foles - 68 (100)
Alshon Jeffery - 61 (90)
Zach Ertz - 60 (88)
Torrey Smith - 51 (75)
Nelson Agholor - 49 (72)
Jay Ajayi - 35 (51)
Brent Celek - 23 (34)
LeGarrette Blount - 17 (25)
Mack Hollins - 13 (19)
Trey Burton - 11 (16)
Corey Clement - 10 (15)
Kenjon Barner - 6 (9)
Isaac Seumalo - 4 (6)

Malcolm Jenkins - 88 snaps (100 percent)
Nigel Bradham - 88 (100)
Rodney McLeod - 88 (100)
Jalen Mills - 85 (97)
Ronald Darby - 84 (95)
Fletcher Cox - 70 (80)
Brandon Graham - 63 (72)
Mychal Kendricks - 61 (69)
Corey Graham - 54 (61)
Patrick Robinson - 47 (53)
Vinny Curry - 46 (52)
Derek Barnett - 42 (48)
Tim Jernigan - 41 (47)
Chris Long - 39 (44)
Beau Allen - 32 (36)
Destiny Vaeao - 23 (26)
Najee Goode - 8 (9)
Jaylen Watkins - 7 (8)
Kamu Grugier-Hill 2 (2)

How the heck did Sidney Jones make this crazy play?

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How the heck did Sidney Jones make this crazy play?

As I rewatched the Eagles’ 20-16 win over the Colts from Sunday, there was one play that I kept coming back to. 

It was a play from Sidney Jones late in the third quarter that I found to be pretty amazing. 

After he saw the tape, Jones thought so too. 

“Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s a crazy play,” Jones said. “But it’s a good play.”

Jones said that every once in a while, he’ll make a play that even surprises him when he goes back and watches the film. 

“Especially that one,” Jones said. “I’ve never done anything like that before. That was a good play for me.” 

At the snap, Jones gets chopped by Ryan Grant, but somehow doesn’t go to the ground. 

“I made (an) athletic play and caught myself,” Jones said, “and it was a like a leap-frog-looking type of play.”

From there, the 22-year-old nickel cornerback needed to go through offensive lineman Denzell Good, who outweighs him by 164 pounds. So Jones basically tried to tackle Good and Zac Pascal, who caught the receiver screen. 

Jones said he just tried to grab whatever he could. That meant his left arm went around Good and his right arm went around Pascal, which didn’t bring the runner to the ground, but did slow him up. 

It’s a shame that Jones didn’t even show up in the box score for this play. Jalen Mills came down and make the tackle on Pascal after a three-yard gain. Two plays later, the Colts settled for a field goal. 

If Jones doesn’t slow down this play and if he gets wiped out by that chop block, it leaves a 1-on-1 block for Pascal with a chance to go for a touchdown. It was a huge play from Jones and I’ll probably watch it another hundred times or so.

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Wendell Smallwood's health gains him opportunity

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Wendell Smallwood's health gains him opportunity

The issue with Wendell Smallwood has never been effort or ability. It’s been availability and, as a result, opportunity — meaning a lack of it.

While Smallwood’s performance during the Eagles’ 20-16 win over the Colts was a pleasant surprise to many observers, the running back’s production was in line with previous games in which he was a focal point of the offense.

Prior to Sunday, Smallwood was averaging 3.9 yards per rushing attempt with two touchdowns. Yet, in games where the third-year veteran carried the ball at least 10 times, he's had a 4.3 average and found the end zone twice. The Eagles also had a 4-1 record in those contests.

Against the Colts, Smallwood carried 10 times for 56 yards – a 5.6 average – and scored his third career rushing touchdown. The Eagles also improved to 5-1 in games he carried at least 10 times.

Despite concerns over Smallwood’s size as a fifth-round draft pick in 2016, the 5-foot-10, 208-pound back runs hard and doesn’t shy away from tacklers. He prides himself on getting the offensive line fired up, and suggested the Eagles were able to wear down the Colts’ front.

That style of back also needs volume sometimes to maximize their impact on a defense, which might explain why Smallwood has looked better with larger workloads.

Of course, with physicality comes contact, and with contact comes injuries, which have been the story of Smallwood’s career. He was limited by a knee injury in 2017, then lost his spot in the rotation after the Eagles traded for Jay Ajayi.

“It was difficult knowing what I can do and how I can help this team,” said Smallwood postgame. “It kind of fueled me coming into this year.

“I’ll never take a down or a play or anything for granted knowing how I had to sit last year or I got hurt and couldn’t really get back into the lineup. It makes me take advantage of every opportunity I get. I don’t ever want to put myself in that situation again.”

Smallwood isn’t suddenly going to find himself as the feature back here, with Ajayi, Darren Sproles and Corey Clement all ahead on the depth chart. However, he’s a reliable fourth option for the Eagles, at the very least.

“Wendell has always impressed me,” said Eagles coach Doug Pederson. “He's worked extremely hard. He's really improved his craft and put himself in a position to help us.

“Got to have guys like that. Might be role players, but you know what, their role is pretty big in games like this when your two top guys are down in the backfield.”

Watching Smallwood run the way he did Sunday – plus catch three passes for 35 yards – you can’t help but wonder, as some did in ’16 and ‘17, how much more he could do should the opportunity ever arise.

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