Zach Ertz begs Darren Sproles every chance he gets.
Pleeeeeeease don’t retire!
Sproles, 35, has said 2018 would be his final season in the NFL, but he’s backed off that a little bit this season, saying only that he’ll decide when the season is over.
Sproles missed most of last season with a broken arm and torn ACL and missed the bulk of this season with a hamstring injury.
Since he returned for the first Redskins game, the Eagles are 4-1 and Sproles has 248 yards and three touchdowns on just 40 touches.
On Sunday in Chicago, Sproles will play his first playoff game in an Eagles uniform.
Oh yeah, I’m in his ear,” Ertz said. “We sit next to each other in special teams meetings, front row, and I’m just always in his ear, saying, ‘Man, you got another four (years) in you. I think him and Frank Gore are in the same class and the Dolphins film was on and I was like, ‘Man, he’s definitely coming back, he already said it. You can’t let him beat you.’
Ertz said he’s noticed that teams aren’t able to cover him the same way when Sproles is also in the game.
“If Sproles and I are in the game together, most of the time they’re going to have to determine who their best inside cover guy is going to guard, and most of the time, it’s an advantage for the other guy,” Ertz said. “That’s why I love playing with him and I don’t want him to retire any time soon.”
Sproles is finishing his 14th NFL season. He has 19,520 all-purpose yards, which is sixth-most in NFL history:
23,546 … Jerry Rice
23,330 … Brian Mitchell
21,803 … Walter Payton
21,564 … Emmitt Smith
19,682 … Tim Brown
19,520 … Darren Sproles
So he only needs 480 yards for 20,000 and only 163 to pass Brown and move into the all-time top-5.
There’s something special about Sproles. To see a guy that size — 5-foot-6, 190 pounds — playing at this level, at this age is astounding.
The joy he plays with is I think it always resonates with the guys,” Ertz said. “Everyone kind of saw the struggle he was enduring trying to overcome the hamstring injury. He was extremely close to playing a couple times, then he’d have a minor setback and he would be crushed. So when he finally came back, everyone was so excited for him. We knew how hard he worked, we knew how great a teammate he is. He’s always making an impact. I think he’s one of the best we’ve had in pass protection in my time here. He’s making an impact whether he’s getting touches or not. He’s special.
Sproles’ 4.9 career rushing average is 15th-highest in NFL history among non-QBs with at least 500 career attempts.
His 547 catches are 10th-most ever among running backs.
And Ertz isn’t ready to see him hang up the ol’ cleats.
“Darren is a guy I feel like you need him each and every week,” he said.
He paused, smiled, then added: “For years to come.”
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