The Eagles’ starting running back job looks like Josh Adams’ to lose, at least for the time being. The question now is whether a 22-year-old undrafted rookie could be the long-term solution.
With only 56 career carries, it’s much too soon to predict Adams’ future, but he has done enough to impress Eagles coaches and teammates.
“He can run that ball, man,” said Eagles left tackle Jason Peters after Adams rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s win over the Giants. “He’s a good cut. He likes to set back and read, then burst.
“That guy is gonna be good.”
That guy doesn’t look too bad right now. Adams is by far the Eagles’ most effective back this season. He became the team leader in rushing this week, while his 5.2 average per attempt is more than a full yard better than anybody else on the roster.
Listed at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds with sub-4.5 speed, Adams might be the most physically gifted back on the roster too. The Notre Dame product going undrafted was largely because of health concerns.
Even the Eagles didn’t envision Adams contributing much in 2018 — he spent the first two weeks on the practice squad.
“I thought Josh played really, really, really well,” Zach Ertz said. “I don’t know if anyone expected that out of him, but it was definitely something that we needed. It really sparked the run game.”
Injuries helped pave the way for Adams’ ascent. Darren Sproles has been out since Week 1. Jay Ajayi landed on injured reserve in October. Corey Clement was less than 100 percent for a while, maybe still is.
Now, Adams’ running style and work ethic are also drawing acclaim from influential critics.
“Most of his runs today, he was patient, and then he’d bounce it outside, or he was patient and hit it inside and then bounced it out,” Peters said. “It helps us set up the blocks even better when they’re being patient.”
“He goes about his business really smart and doesn’t say a whole lot,” Lane Johnson said. “[He’s] one of those guys that’s just a silent killer. As the season has gone on, he keeps improving.”
Sproles is expected to retire at the end of the season. Ajayi is a free agent. Wendell Smallwood didn’t see the field Sunday. And Clement is having a tough season. You can’t blame anybody for wondering if Adams can be the Eagles’ savior at running back for the remainder of 2018 and beyond.
But it is Adams’ job to lose for the rest of the season — Doug Pederson confirmed it Monday.
“Listen, it's not to discount or discredit Corey and Wendell because they do a lot of great things as well,” Pederson said. “It's just that Josh now has kind of taken that lead, and we continue to grow and try to increase his touches each week.”
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