Josh Adams is Starting to Show Up for Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Rewind about 10 months and Josh Adams was one of the most high-profile players in college football, a Heisman Trophy candidate at perhaps the most famous football factory of them all, Notre Dame.
These days the big man on campus is starting over, an undrafted rookie on the reigning Super Bowl champions whose ceiling would seem to be the practice squad with an eye on making a run at a roster spot in 2019 when Darren Sproles and perhaps Jay Ajayi have moved on.
A Warrington native who once starred at Central Bucks South before becoming a difference-maker in South Bend, Adams wasn't even on Mike Groh's radar early in training camp, something exemplified when a Bucks County-based reporter wanted to know what the first-year offensive coordinator thought about the hometown kid.
"He's been in very little, so probably not enough to comment right now," Groh said of the 6-foot-2, 225-pound back.
Slowly some air has been put back into that lead balloon in recent days as Adams is finally healthy after sitting out spring work with a hairline fracture in his right foot.
"I mean you never want to sit out but I was just doing the best I can to transition into this thing and being patient, trusting the trainers and trusting the process of coming back," Adams told 973espn.com when discussing his spring on the sidelines after practice on Friday. "So I used that time to learn from the other guys and pick up the playbook as best I can and prepare myself to be ready to go out there."
Adams has easily been the most physical runner the Eagles have had over the past week in training camp, a thesis stamped by two eye-popping runs: one in which Adams bulldozed 290-pound defensive tackle Winston Craig, and another where he plunged into the end zone off left tackle during a live goal-line drill.
To date, all of Adams work has come against the second- and third-team defenders but he's finally started to show some of what put him on the national radar with the Fighting Irish.
"I knew we had a great room and a great group of guys that would help me out if I needed," Adams said. "Obviously we have a great coaching staff that will work with the players so I just knew I would be held to the same standard as everybody else. When you get out there, you gotta do your job. I just used that mentality to prepare myself."
Adams is an interesting back because of his lanky frame and natural strength as a runner who showed an extra gear at Notre Dame when he broke out into the open field. The biggest knock on Adams from scouts around the league is that he runs too upright, something that will make him susceptible to injury at this level with all the big bodies taking shots at him.
Duce Staley, the RBs coach and now assistant head coach, is known to give his young backs one or two things to focus on and lowering the pad level has been paramount with Adams.
"It's a new level and I have to figure out what type of player I want to be," Adams explained. "Obviously, Duce is working with me on that trying to make me a better player and just focusing on my pad level, staying low, being an aggressive runner but at the same time keeping my pad level lower. That allows me to limit some of the cheap shots and the low hits so I'm just working one day at a time doing that and trying to perfect my craft."
In the short term, Adams faces a tough numbers game with Ajayi, Sproles and Corey Clement locks to make the final 53 and others like Wendell Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey and Matt Jones fighting Adams for the last spot or two. What seems a fait accompli is a spot on the 10-man practice squad unless of course, another team comes calling with a better offer if Adams is able to put together a strong preseason.
"It's been a lot of fun," Adams said of his first NFL training camp. "I'm excited to see how much more I can do down the road."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen