What Kind of Role Will Darren Sproles Have in Pederson’s Offense
During his first two season, Darren Sproles has had a big impact on the Eagles offense and special teams. While he has been a difference maker in the return game, many think he should have had an even bigger impact in Chip Kelly's offense.
Last year he totaled 705 yards on offense with four touchdowns, but now 32, some suggested the Eagles could cut ties with the diminutive running back and punt returner this offseason but new Eagles head coach Doug Pederson sees a big role for the little back.
"His role will be extensive," Pederson explained. "Both offensively and also on special teams, and I'm excited to kind of get to see what he can do this week a little bit."
Think about guys like Jamaal Charles in Kanas City, Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy when they played in Philadelphia. They were a part of the Andy Reid offense that you'll see with Pederson and that might be what you can envision for Sproles this season.
"If you go back and just look at what we did in Kansas City with our running backs with Jamaal [Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles] before he got hurt and then with the two guys after the injury [Chiefs RBs Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West], we like to move our running backs around, and [Sproles is] a guy that creates matchups on defense, or against the defense, and we're going to move him around; we are not necessarily going to keep him in the backfield," Pederson said.
Last year after taking over for Charles, West rushed for 586 yards, added another 205 through the air and scored five total touchdowns in 10 appearances after Jamaal Charles went down with a torn ACL last season. After West went down with an injury, Ware added 403 yards and six touchdowns on 72 carries.
The opportunity should be there for Sproles to be a big contributor, but he can't carry the load himself on this 5-foot-6, 190 lbs. frame. The Eagles added West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood in the fifth round of the draft and with Sproles missing OTAs, Smallwood stepped in.
"Wendell showed a lot this offseason since the draft, and he's a guy, that I think, with his further development can help us," Pederson acknowledged.
"I like everything he's done so far through OTAs, and again, he's got another opportunity this week with the limited number of reps that Darren will get. So [I’m] excited to see exactly where Wendell ends up this week."
Then there is the enigma that is Ryan Mathews, who was clearly the best back on the team a season ago, averaging over five yards per carry and seven touchdowns, but like many seasons before, injuries limited his effectiveness. Mathews sat out the first couple weeks of OTAs with a groin issue, making both Sproles and Smallwood important pieces of the backfield.