In the span of a couple months, Josh Adams went from the Eagles’ practice squad to the featured running back in their biggest win of the season.
How did he do it?
Well, it came from equal parts opportunity and hard work. Injuries to Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles opened the door. And from there, the rookie from Notre Dame has been consistently showing the Eagles’ coaches what they want to see.
“He’s just been coming on and making really good progress each and every week,” Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh said, “and I think earning everybody’s trust with the way he’s handled everything that’s he’s been asked to do.”
The Eagles rewarded Adams on Sunday with 22 carries, the most any Eagles running back has had in a game since Ryan Mathews in early 2016. Adams piled up 84 yards and a touchdown to help the Eagles get a big win.
It took Adams this long to earn his big spot in the running back rotation for a few reasons. First, obviously, he wasn’t even added to the active roster until Sept. 18. Before then, he had been on the practice squad after being a casualty of final cuts.
You might remember that way back in the spring after Adams signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent, he missed all of OTAs with a foot injury. Coming off that injury, he needed to work on his conditioning, running backs coach Duce Staley said. The one area where Staley said he’s really seen Adams improve is his conditioning. Eventually, in practice, Adams wasn’t getting tired and was able to finish a series and not come out after one or two plays. That was important.
The other thing Staley liked from Adams was his work ethic. He praised the rookie for spending extra time after practice to work on things. That dedication didn’t go unnoticed.
The funny thing is that Adams just smiled when asked what he did to earn his coaches trust.
“I wasn’t really focused on that,” he said. “I just try to come in each and every day and make myself better and compete with the people around me. It’s a blessing that I was able to turn some heads, but my thing is, I’m going to control what I can control and go out there and play ball.”
Adams did say the one thing he wanted to prove to his coaches was that he could do more than just run the ball. Adams had 22 carries Sunday but played a total of 40 snaps. He needed to prove that he could pass block and also be a receiver.
There were all those things Adams was doing away from the field, but the Eagles also couldn’t ignore what he was doing on it either. In limited opportunities, Adams had already been showing flashes.
So how did the Eagles know Adams was ready for this bigger role?
“If I knew all that, I’d win the lottery,” Staley said. “I don’t know that. Gotta throw him out there.”
The Eagles did it Sunday and it worked. Staley said the Eagles won’t abandon the running back-by-committee approach, but it’s clear Adams has earned his top spot for now.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.