Expect More Josh Adams vs. Saints
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - On Saturday Josh Adams' Notre Dame Fighting Irish will be at Yankee Stadium trying to ensure a run toward the College Football Playoff stays intact against Syracuse.
About 24 hours later Adams himself may again be a bell cow for the first time since he left South Bend and the comfort of running behind Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey.
Adams, who finished his ND career fifth on the storied school's all-time rushing list and No. 1 when it came to yards-per-carry, surprisingly went undrafted back in the spring partially due to a foot injury that limited his offseason work when the Eagles took the plunge and signed the lengthy 6-foot-2 and 225-pound back.
He started the season on the practice squad but was quickly elevated to the 53-man roster on Sept. 23. A few touches came right away in Adams' NFL debut due to injuries before things slowed down a bit.
Over the past three games, however, Adams has started to garner more opportunities as Doug Pederson searches for a consistent running option for his offense. Four carries against Carolina spiked to a season-high nine against Jacksonville in London followed by seven more in the loss to Dallas last Sunday. The totals and efficacy over that time frame are basically what a star back does in one game, 20 carries for 125 yards with two totes of over 20 yards.
“He's improved each week,” Pederson said earlier this week. “Do I think he can have a few more touches? I do. So that will answer everybody's questions right there. I do feel like he could touch the ball a few more times.”
If you forget the undrafted scarlet letter on Adams, he is unquestionably the Eagles most gifted back, at least when it comes to running the football. There's more to the position than that, however, and like most rookies Adams, once an All-Pennsylvania RB at Central Bucks South, is still a work in progress as a receiver and in pass protection.
That said, he's opening eyes and with the powerful Saints on deck Adams may have to play a key role in a game of keep away from Drew Brees.
"Yeah, we're seeing good things from Josh, and he continues to warrant consideration for more playing time," offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. "I think that having missed the spring and most of training camp, he's really just starting to play his best ball. I think you'll see Josh moving forward."
Adams is happy to have earned more trust from his coaching staff.
“It’s great just to know that you have that trust within a coaching staff and trust within players around you,” he said. “It means a lot, especially with what we go through throughout the week with practices and how hard we grind.”
In New Orleans, that grind may be leaning on the big back to churn some clock.
"As an offense, it's always a goal to put points on the board and as a team we want to help the guys on the other side of the ball," Adams said. "We want to make it easier for all three phases of football. ... We want to do the best we can to help our team win and we want to put ourselves in the best position to do that. So it definitely is a goal of ours to put the football in the end zone and control the ball more and be the best offense we can be."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen