darren sproles

Eagles Injury Update: Alshon Jeffery out, Jordan Howard questionable for Patriots game

Eagles Injury Update: Alshon Jeffery out, Jordan Howard questionable for Patriots game

After being limited all week in practice, Eagles running back Jordan Howard is officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. 

On the report, Howard’s injury is listed as a shoulder, but Doug Pederson said Howard suffered a stinger in the Bears game two weeks ago. Howard hasn’t yet been cleared for contact and that would need to happen for him to play on Sunday. 

Here’s the Eagles’ full report for Sunday: 

Out: Nigel Bradham (ankle), Alshon Jeffery (ankle), Darren Sproles (quad)

Questionable: Howard (shoulder)

It’s not surprising that Bradham or Jeffery will miss this game. They did not practice all week. And Sproles will likely be on IR by the time Sunday comes; he tore a hip flexor. 

Missing Jeffery is a big blow to the Eagles, even with his lack of production this season. Without Jeffery, the Eagles are down to Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Jordan Matthews. They also have a few options on the practice squad if they want to call one of them up. 

The Patriots love to take away their opponents’ best weapons, which means they can really focus on Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert in this game. Someone else will need to produce if the Eagles want to score. 

Jason Peters (knee) was not assigned a game status, so it looks like he’s ready to make his return after missing three starts. The Eagles have said he’ll reclaim his starting left tackle spot. 

Rodney McLeod (shoulder) was also limited in Friday’s practice, but he’s expected to be fine for the game. 

The Patriots listed seven players as questionable: S Patrick Chung, S Nate Ebner, RB Damien Harris, TE Matt LaCosse, WR Gunner Olszewski, DL Danny Shelton, DE John Simon. 

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Out for the year, Darren Sproles a reminder that sentimentality has no place in NFL

Out for the year, Darren Sproles a reminder that sentimentality has no place in NFL

Darren Sproles’ season and possibly his career are ending in a way he desperately wanted to avoid. 

On the shelf. 

The Eagles announced on Friday that their 36-year-old running back/returner suffered a torn right hip flexor and is done for the season. It seems likely this is an unfortunate end to what was a remarkable career. 

It’s also the latest reminder that sentimentally truly has no place in a sport as barbaric and cruel as football. 

The Eagles fell into that trap when they brought back Sproles in July. And, as clichéd as it is, Father Time is still undefeated. 

The fact is, that after Sproles struggled to stay on the field in 2017 and 2018, the Eagles should have been a little more wary about bringing him back to do it again in 2019. They never were. And in his final three NFL seasons, Sproles missed a total of 36 regular season and playoff games. 

But Doug Pederson is loyal. Sometimes, he’s loyal to a fault. 

And Sproles didn’t want his career to end on a bad note, not after 2017, not after 2018. Pederson never wavered either; if Sproles wanted to return, he’d have a spot for him. 

Really, Sproles is just one piece of an even bigger problem from this offseason. The Eagles were relying on Sproles (age 36), DeSean Jackson (age 32) and Jason Peters (age 37). Sproles and Jackson have now had major injuries and Peters has missed the last month after getting a knee scope. 

Sure, it’s easier to find the problem in hindsight. But even back then, it was fair to question moves to bring in/back older players. 

“I would do it again. I would do it again,” Pederson said on Friday morning. “With all three of those guys, I would do it again. These are great players and these are great leaders, these are great teammates. Been a part of this organization for a long time, so I would make the same decision again. I think you can’t go into it blind, obviously. We know where they are in their careers, as we talked about, and that’s something you have to consider.”

Earlier this season, Sproles eclipsed Tim Brown to move into fifth place all-time in NFL all-purpose yards. It was something he cared about.  

1. Jerry Rice: 23,546
2. Brian Mitchell: 23,330
3. Walter Payton: 21,803
4. Emmitt Smith: 21, 564
5. Darren Sproles: 19,696

That’s some impressive company for Sproles, who had a tremendous career, especially for a guy who stands at 5-foot-6. He was one of the most electric players in the league from the moment he was drafted in 2005. 

And he was great in Philadelphia. He made his only three Pro Bowls with the Eagles in 2014, 2015 and 2016. But since then, injuries took over and his age didn’t help. 

Sproles had an all-time great career. He and the Eagles just tried to hold on to it for a little too long. 

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Eagles' RB position in sudden state of disarray with Jordan Howard, Darren Sproles injured

Eagles' RB position in sudden state of disarray with Jordan Howard, Darren Sproles injured

With the Eagles’ running back position suddenly in disarray, it looks like they are turning to Jay Ajayi. 

Ajayi was in the NovaCare Complex building on Friday morning, head coach Doug Pederson confirmed, and then it became more clear why. 

Just before Pederson’s 10:15 a.m. press conference, the Eagles announced that Darren Sproles suffered a torn right hip flexor in practice and is out for the season

And, more importantly, Jordan Howard still hasn’t been cleared for contact from a stinger he suffered late in the Bears game nearly two weeks ago. That’s why he’s been limited in practice this week. He's questionable for Sunday. 

“He’s been cleared to do some sort of individual work in practice, but he hasn’t been cleared for contact yet,” Pederson said. “That’s where he’s at.” 

That means the Eagles’ only healthy running backs on the 53-man roster are Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. Sanders is the only healthy running back from the Eagles’ initial 53-man roster. 

If Howard doesn’t get cleared for contact before Sunday, he obviously won’t play against the Patriots. Howard’s injury has been listed as a shoulder injury. 

Pederson was asked if Howard’s injury is something that could linger. 

“Again, you’re getting into the medical side of it,” he said. “I don’t know much about it other than he just hasn’t been cleared right now for the contact.” 

The move to at least take a look at Ajayi is obviously linked to both of these injuries to Howard and Sproles. The hope here is obviously that Howard’s injury isn’t a long-term one, but signing Ajayi might put that into question. 

Pederson also brought up DeAngelo Henderson, who is on the Eagles’ practice squad, as a possible roster addition before Sunday. It seems like either Henderson or Ajayi will be suiting up for the Eagles on Sunday. 

As for Ajayi? 

“I think he just had breakfast,” Pederson said. “I haven’t seen him yet this morning, so I’ll find out more about him later. We’ve been with our team all morning.”

Ajayi, 26, hasn’t played since tearing his ACL last October, so the Eagles obviously want to see what kind of shape he and that knee are in. 

Sproles played in just six games this year. As the Eagles explained in an unusually detailed statement, Sproles missed games earlier in the season with a quad injury and was then cleared. He played again against the Bears and practiced Monday and Tuesday and reported the injury after Wednesday’s practice. Tests revealed the torn hip flexor muscle.

This could very well be the end of the 36-year-old’s career.

“I’ve learned this over my playing career and coaching in this league that it’s part of the game,” Pederson said. “It’s disappointing in Darren’s situation because of who he is as a person and what he’s meant to this organization, what he’s meant to this team. His leadership, he’s a Hall of Fame specialist in this league, really. I’m disappointed for him, more so than for the team, that he can’t continue.”

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