Is Time Running Out on Donnel Pumphrey?
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Donnel Pumphrey says he's healthy, but the embattled young running back will not play in Thursday's dress-rehearsal game at the Cleveland Browns.
That means the 2017 fourth-round pick will be missing the most important part of the preseason at a time he needs to prove his worth to the coaching staff.
"Each day is a little bit of a missed opportunity," coach Doug Pederson admitted when discussing Pumphrey. "He's got to get himself healthy and try to get himself back here as soon as he can."
There seems to be a bit of disconnect there as Pumphrey, who is dealing with another hamstring issue, believes he's ready for the Browns yet the organization is holding him back.
"I felt like I could play this week but they don't want to risk it," Pumphrey said. "It definitely is (frustrating). I felt like I was having a good camp leading up to [the injury]."
Shelving Pumphrey could mean a host of things with the more negative tilting toward the Eagles giving up on the former San Diego State star and the polar opposite of that being the team being extra cautious with a back they expect to be on the final 53 and the eventual replacement for Darren Sproles in 2019.
The truth is probably somewhere in between. Pumphrey said he was able to run "full speed" off to the side at practice on Tuesday and expects to play in the Week 4 preseason finale against the New York Jets.
That might be too late, however.
"You're not getting the practice reps you need and obviously the game reps," the coach explained when discussing the injury. "Being exposed to not only our roster but 31 other teams who are watching our games."
That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement of Pumphrey's roster chances and the undersized back is starting to think about life outside Philadelphia.
"I mean, whether it's playing here or somewhere else, that's the biggest thing," Pumphrey said. "Put something on tape."
The Eagles are expected to keep four running backs with Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Sproles serving as the sure things and Pumphrey battling Wendell Smallwood, Matt Jones and undrafted rookie Josh Adams for the last spot.
Adams returned to practice Tuesday after tweaking the same foot that kept him out of spring work and expects to play against the Browns.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen