When the Eagles released Josh Adams on Sept. 1, you couldn’t have blamed the 21-year-old Bucks County native if he began to second guess his decision to leave Notre Dame early.
Not only was his dream of playing in the NFL on hold, his former college teammates were in the midst of beating Michigan on their way to an 11-0 start.
Second guess himself? Not Adams. That’s not how he’s wired:
I’m excited for those guys, I have a lot of love for those guys, but that’s not my story, that’s their story. I’m blessed to be in the position I’m in. Those guys back there are like my brothers, like family, wishing them nothing but success. I watch them every week and get excited. I knew it was a decision that was not only for me but for my family. The position I was in it was about what do I want for my future, but I have the support of Notre Dame and everybody there and the family I built there. There is no second guessing. I’m blessed to be in the position I’m in.
Less than three months after he was released and his football career appeared to be in limbo, Adams has emerged as the de facto lead running back for the Super Bowl champs.
As Adams celebrates Thanksgiving with his family in Warrington on Thursday, he certainly has a lot to be thankful for.
He’ll earn over $400,000 this year. He’s playing for his hometown team. And he’s gradually emerged as a starting NFL running back, although granted it's for a team that doesn't run very much.
A day after the Eagles released Adams, they signed him to the practice squad. And two weeks later, with Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles both banged up, they signed him to the 53-man roster.
When Corey Clement hurt his quad, he became the No. 2 back and as he’s produced and Wendell Smallwood’s numbers have dropped, Adams has emerged as the No. 1 guy.
“Obviously it was a journey,” he said. “I don’t think of it as I’m the top running back. I feel like I’m in that position as of right now or last game, but the position I’m in is not only trying to get myself better but trying to help this team and whatever role I’m called to help, and I’ll continue to do that each and every week.”
The Eagles are 4-6 and have lost five of their last seven games and three straight at the Linc. Sometimes it seems like the whole team is in a slump.
But Adams has been one of the few bright spots in a largely disappointing season.
• His 6.1 average is second-highest among NFL rookies, behind only Nick Chubb’s 6.2 mark for the Browns.
• He’s on pace for the highest per-carry average ever by a rookie Eagles running back. Jim Parmer averaged 5.6 yards per carry in 1948.
• With three straight games at 6.5 yards per carry or higher, he’s the first Eagle with at least seven carries and an average of 6.5 in three straight games since Randall Cunningham in 1990.
• His 6.6 average over the last four weeks is fifth-highest in the league during that span (minimum of 20 attempts) and third-highest by a running back.
It’s been quite a year for Adams. Deciding to leave school early. Going undrafted. Released. Signed. Earning playing time. And producing at a high level.
“I wouldn’t say (it’s been) smooth,” he said. “It’s gone from being let go and picked back up. But all in all I’m blessed to have that experience and be a part of this organization.
“All the ups and downs, I don’t take for granted. I appreciate the road I’ve been on.”
This could be a tricky situation.
Clement was a Super Bowl stud. Smallwood is the Eagles’ leading rusher. But Adams is getting the bulk of a small workload.
But Adams said all the backs support each other and all the backs have each other’s back.
“We’re competing with each other,” he said. “We’re trying to make each other better, and I think that’s what makes our room great. We’re pushing each other and wishing for the other guys’ success while at the same time trying to improve yourself and trying to do the best we can to contribute to the offense.
“I think we have a really healthy competition in our room, and we’re only going to get better.”
It would have been easy to question Adams’ decision to leave college early. Especially after the Eagles released him.
But with 6 ½ yards per carry after starting the season out of work, you’d think he’d feel validated.
“I didn’t need the validation,” he said. “God gave me talent to play for the Philadelphia Eagles. Where I grew up? It’s a dream come true.”
Where does Adams go from here? Who knows. He’s had a nice little stretch here, but so have other Eagles rookie running backs, like Bryce Brown, Ryan Moats and of course Clement last year.
Nothing is guaranteed except that Adams will be on the field Sunday against the Giants running hard, blocking his guy, doing everything he can to help the Eagles win.
And during what’s looking more and more each week like a lost season, that’s definitely something to be thankful for.
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