The Eagles’ running back room just got a lot more interesting.
The Eagles were awarded 23-year-old running back Kerryon Johnson on waivers Friday from the Lions.
Johnson, the Lions’ 2nd-round pick in 2018, hasn’t been the same player since the first of a couple serious knee injuries suffered in 2019.
Johnson joins a running backs room led by Miles Sanders, who has 1,685 rushing yards, a 4.9 average and 78 receptions in his first two NFL seasons.
Boston Scott has 619 rushing yards, a 4.4 average and 49 receptions the last two years, and the Eagles drafted two-way back Kenny Gainwell out of Memphis in the fifth round on Sunday.
Veteran Jordan Howard, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher and a Pro Bowler with the Bears, is also on the roster, as are youngsters Jason Huntley, Adrian Killins and Elijah Holyfield.
The Eagles can get a long look at Johnson this summer and see what he has left with no risk. He has to be considered a long shot to make the team at this point, although if Gainwell doesn’t have a good camp and Johnson looks like 2018 Johnson he could make things interesting.
Johnson had a promising rookie year, averaging 5.4 yards per carry with 32 catches for 213 yards and four total touchdowns.
He ranked sixth among all NFL rookies with 854 yards from scrimmage and was fifth among running backs. His 5.4 rushing average broke the Lions’ rookie record of 5.3, set in 1989 by Barry Sanders. He missed the last month of the season with a knee injury but expectations were high coming off his rookie season.
But Johnson was limited to eight games in 2019 because of another knee injury. He ran for 403 yards and three TDs but his rushing average dropped to 3.6, and he caught just 10 passes.
This past year, he managed just 181 rushing yards on 52 carries and two TDs, and his 3.5 rushing average was 6th-lowest in the NFL.
After recording the 2nd-highest rushing average in the NFL in 2018, behind only the Packers’ Aaron Jones, Johnson has the 6th-lowest in the league over the last two years.
The Lions drafted another 2nd-round running back last year, Philadelphia native D’Andre Swift, and he averaged 4.6 yards, caught 46 passes and averaged 4.6 yards per carry, winning the starting job and rendering Johnson expendable.
The Lions’ new running backs coach is Duce Staley, who was on the Eagles’ coaching staff since 2010 after playing here for seven years.
Johnson is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract, which was worth $6,503,691. He’s scheduled to make $1,366,867 this year, which would also be his salary cap figure if he makes the roster.
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