Timeless Darren Sproles looks as youthful as ever at Eagles training camp

Timeless Darren Sproles looks as youthful as ever at Eagles training camp

He didn’t do it this offseason, but in years past, Zach Ertz has gone to San Diego to work out with Darren Sproles. 

Ertz joked he used to visit Southern California on a mission to figure out what kind of magic potion Sproles drank to keep him young. 

His attempts proved futile.  

“There’s no magic potion, just hard work,” Ertz said with a smile. “Hard work is the only potion he’s got.” 

I don’t know if I’m buying it. 

I think Sproles either has some magic potion or visits a fountain of youth or made some sort of deal with the Devil. 

Because we’re a week into training camp and 35-year-old Sproles, coming off a broken arm and a torn ACL, looks like he’s still in his mid-20s. It really looks like the injuries never happened. 

Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised by this. None of us should be surprised by this. 

Carson Wentz has known Sproles since he was drafted in 2016. That’s long enough to know that "Mighty Mouse" isn’t like the rest of us. 

It’s remarkable,” Wentz said. “I mean, it’s remarkable but at the same time, it doesn’t surprise any of us. We know Darren, we’ve seen him year in and year out, and obviously a setback last year, but he looks like he’s healthy. And you guys see it. We love that guy and we know he’s one of the hardest workers on this team and really in the league. He’s done it year in and year out so we all kind of sit in awe, but at the end of the day, it’s Darren, so what do you expect?

Yeah, this is pretty much what we should expect. 

We saw Sproles in only three games last season before he went down, but in 2016, he accounted for over 1,100 all-purpose yards. 

Coming into this season, which he has already said will be his last in the NFL, Sproles has 19,155 all-purpose yards, which is good for eighth in NFL history. In a blog post earlier this month, Sproles said he has his eyes set on Tim Brown at No. 5. 

Sproles would need 528 all-purpose yards to pass Brown (see story). Based on what we’ve seen from Sproles this summer, that seems possible. 

The guy is just a freak athlete,” Corey Clement said. “He takes care of his body the best way he possibly can. He’s still running around making jukes like he’s 24. That’s a blessing to come back off an injury like that and still look like it never happened to him. That’s one of the coolest things I can ever witness in person.

While we didn’t see Sproles at practice until the spring, there were already clear indications that his recovery was going well before that. 

Check out this Instagram post from April: 

Yeah, that’s impressive. He really is a physical freak. 

The quiet veteran still has the quick feet and has the opportunity to really help the Eagles on special teams and probably even on offense. It’ll be up to Doug Pederson to figure out how to use him, but Pederson never hid the fact that he wanted his Swiss Army Knife back for one more season. 

It would be hard to find a more well-respected player in the Eagles’ locker room. 

This is my first time seeing him being able to practice (since the injury),” Jay Ajayi said. “I’ve been enjoying every part of it. He looks great. It’s just a blessing to be able to practice with him and have him as a teammate. He’s special and I’m glad I get to learn from him. To have him as a teammate is really awesome for me.

It’s not hard to figure out why Sproles decided to come back for a 13th and final NFL season. Just like Jason Peters and Haloti Ngata, there was just no way he was going to end his incredible career on the IR. 

There was no way he was going to let his last NFL play be one where he ended up breaking his arm and tearing his ACL. It’s pretty amazing to see him return and look as good as he has already this summer, but we really shouldn’t be surprised.

“Nothing really amazes me from that guy,” Ertz said. 

Father Time is undefeated, but Sproles is certainly giving him a run for his money. We should have known he would.

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Doug Pederson has different perspective on Jalen Mills than average Eagles fan

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Doug Pederson has different perspective on Jalen Mills than average Eagles fan

Doug Pederson’s perspective on Jalen Mills might be just a little bit different than yours.

Where some fans may see the worst cornerback in NFL history, the heir apparent to Izel Jenkins, Pederson sees a 24-year-old Super Bowl champ who’s a sure tackler, a fearless defender and a natural leader.

“Jalen has actually been playing extremely well,” Pederson said Monday.

He actually has.

Mills has drawn the ire of some Eagles fans because of the DeSean Jackson 75-yard touchdown that opened the loss to the Buccaneers and a couple pass interference penalties he committed in the win over the Colts Sunday.

But the bottom line is Mills is a very good cornerback, a former seventh-round pick who played extremely well during the Super Bowl run, and like every young cornerback, he’s a work in progress.

The D-Jack TD we've been through. That was equal parts the fault of Malcolm Jenkins vacating the post, Ronald Darby not getting home with a blitz and Mills just getting beat by the greatest big-play receiver the NFL has seen in the last 50 years. 

The pass interference calls Sunday were the first on Mills this year. He was cited for four last year — for 7, 9, 21 and 40 yards.

Pederson explained specifically what Mills needs to stop doing to avoid getting cited for DPI.

“The flags (Sunday), obviously he's got to get his off-hand [off the receiver],” Pederson said. “He's got a right or left hand that is going for the ball. The off-hand is in a position where he's hooking. He’s just got to be cognizant of that and aware of that and try and get it off.”

So that’s the negative. Those are big plays, and Mills has to do a better job avoiding penalties.

Then there are the positives.

And there are positives.

“He's always in position,” Pederson said. “Seems like he's right there to make the play. 

“He's physical, he's tough, he can come up and make tackles. He's been solid quite, honestly, at the corner position. Gives you stability on both sides with he and Darby. 

“So [he’s] a young player that’s going to continue with more snaps just getting better and better and he's going to understand the game a little bit more and his technique.”

Mills had three interceptions and a touchdown last year and ranked second on the team behind Patrick Robinson. 

Despite the DPIs on Sunday, Mills actually had one of his best games in terms of coverage and tackling. 

Pederson said he’s been impressed with Mills’ mental strength and his ability to shrug off a bad play and focus on the next play.

“Yeah, I think with any athlete, any player, especially a young player, the quicker you can forget about it and move on, the better you're going to be,” Pederson said.

“He can do that. Whether it's a flag or a pass or something, he can just forget about it and move on.”

Mills doesn’t turn 25 until next spring. With 20 career starts, he already has the third-most starts by an Eagles cornerback under 25 in the last 25 years — behind only Lito Sheppard (34) and Bobby Taylor (33).

And keep this in mind:

Including the postseason, the Eagles are 19-4 when Mills starts. 

The Eagles have the No. 3 defense in the NFL since opening day last year.

Opposing quarterbacks have the seventh-worst QB rating against the Eagles over the last two years.

The Eagles have allowed the sixth-fewest pass plays of 20 yards or more since opening day 2017.

Mills must be doing something right.

He can play better, no doubt, and I believe he will. But the Jalen Mills we're watching every Sunday is already a pretty good player.

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Eagles bring back Josh Andrews to practice squad

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Eagles bring back Josh Andrews to practice squad

The Eagles made a practice squad switch on Tuesday morning, bringing back a guy who has been with them dating back to the Chip Kelly days. 

Josh Andrews has been signed to the practice squad. Jon Toth, an undrafted rookie who had been with them all spring and summer, has been released. 

Andrews, 27, joined the Eagles as an undrafted offensive guard out of Oregon State back in 2014. The Eagles now list him as a center. He can play both. 

After spending the first four years of his career in Philly, Andrews signed with the Vikings this past spring. There was some familiarity with new Vikings OC John DeFilippo. Andrews was waived/injured at final cuts (ankle) and was then made a free agent. The Eagles came calling again. 

Andrews has played in 16 NFL games in his career but has never gotten in on offense. He got close back in 2015, when Lane Johnson got hurt and exited the game. But just as Andrews was ready to take the field, Johnson ran back out and he never got his shot (see story). He was on the 53-man roster in 2015 and 2016. 

All last season, Andrews was on the practice squad. He was one of those guys who the coaches love to praise as someone who gets the defense ready for games. The Eagles obviously like him; this is now his fifth season with the Eagles in some capacity. 

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