Backfield Woes Mount for Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles had only three running backs at practice Wednesday as preparation began for the team's matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London.
And one of those backs -- Donnel Pumphrey -- isn't even on the active roster after being re-signed to the practice squad on Tuesday.
In hindsight one of the reasons Philadelphia brought Pumphrey back unveiled itself Wednesday when Wendell Smallwood, the team's leading rusher this season, did not appear.
Smallwood, of course, has taken on an expanded role due to the injuries of Jay Ajayi, who is out for the season with an ACL tear, and Darren Sproles, who has been gone since Week 1 due to a hamstring injury.
With the bye week looming after Sunday for Philadelphia, Sproles was again absent from practice Wednesday and is unlikely to play Sunday.
For now Corey Clement and undrafted rookie Josh Adams are the only available backs to Doug Pederson, although a roster move is likely coming sooner rather than later because the Eagles will be placing Derek Barnett on injured reserve after season-ending rotator-cuff surgery.
If Smallwood, who has 233 rushing yards on 52 carries, a solid 4.5 yards-per-carry, is unable to go in London, Pumphrey, who is now wearing No. 35 could be promoted for Sunday's game.
Concern was tempered a bit after practice, however, when the Eagles' injury report was released and it was revealed Smallwood missed the session for personal reasons and it was not injury related.
Also missing at practice Wednesday were safety Corey Graham (hamstring), cornerback Sidney Jones (hamstring) and linebacker Nate Gerry (ankle, knee). CB Rasul Douglas, who missed two practices last week after his Grandmother passed, was also given the day off for personal reasons.
Both Haloti Ngata, who has missed the last three games with a calf injury, and LB D.J. Alexander, who missed the prior two games with a quad issue were participating on a limited basis.
Carson Wentz (back) was also limited but a team source said he would back at practice on Thursday and is online to start against the Jags.
Others limited were offensive tackles Jason Peters (biceps) and Lane Johnson (ankle).
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen