Darren Sproles technically isn’t a coach.
The Eagles hired the 15-year veteran this offseason after he retired. The former running back and Pro Bowl returner was given the title of Personnel Consultant, so he’s not technically a member of the Eagles’ coaching staff.
That makes Duce Staley chuckle.
“Well, he is coaching. So he is doing that,” Staley said. “I joke with him all the time. It’s definitely a big help when the younger guys see him in the room.”
Even as a quasi coach behind a blue surgical mask, Sproles, at 5-foot-6 is unmistakable. And despite his stature, his presence looms large.
He’s a guy who played a decade and a half in the NFL, went to three Pro Bowls and is fifth all-time in the NFL in career all-purpose yards. For the first time in many years, Sproles doesn’t have to spend his summers on a football field; he’s choosing to.
During the first few padded practices of training camp, Sproles has been on the field in coach/front office gear, working with the young players.
And that means a ton to the Eagles.
“Of course, Corey (Clement) and Miles (Sanders) and Boston (Scott), they were able to suit up with him and go to war with him,” Staley said. “But now, they see him on the other side being able to come back and coach them says a couple things. It says, one, that he cares about them. He cares about their development. Also, him being out there, taking the time away from his family shows how dedicated he is to helping them.”
Having Sproles around, particularly this season, is a huge help for Staley and the Eagles. They have an incredibly young running back room in 2020. Check out their ages:
Corey Clement: 25 Boston Scott: 25 Miles Sanders: 23 Elijah Holyfield: 22 Adrian Killins: 22 Mike Warren: 21
Sproles, 37, played in 183 career games. The entire running back room combined has played in 60 games and three of them have never played in a real game at all.
And Sproles isn’t just helping with the running backs, as Staley pointed out.
“Also look at (Jalen) Reagor,” Staley said. “He’s helping the punt returners also. Some of the things no matter if it’s a high ball, long ball, short balls, stuff like that. How to read the punter’s walk down, just valuable information, man, that comes from a vet like him. They’re embracing it, they’re loving it and they’re enjoying it.”
Having Sproles and other guys like Connor Barwin around the team is important. It fosters a feeling of family. Just the other day, Brandon Graham said he wants to return in that fashion when his playing days are over.
Aside from it helping morale, it might also help the Eagles on the football field. Sproles has a ton of knowledge and the Eagles’ young skill players are now benefitting from it.