Despite Little Buzz Jordan Howard Remains a Big Part of Eagles’ Plans
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — When it comes to running back most of the talk in Eagles camp has centered around Miles Sanders.
And that only picked up on Tuesday when the Eagles rookie showed up in a big way, fighting in from the 5-yard line during a live period and showing off his receiving skills on a wheel route that got the offense going a bit early in the session.
All of the attention is understandable because Sanders is a premium draft pick at No. 53 overall and he missed all of spring work with a hamstring issue so many fans were champing at the bit for news about the player who may develop into the first real three-down back in the Doug Pederson era.
With all the hoopla surrounding Sanders, though, it's easy to forget that the former Penn State star isn't even the guy, at least not yet.
That title belongs to Jordan Howard, the fourth-year trade pickup who already has two 1,000-yard seasons under his belt during his three years in Chicago.
The Indiana University product is the Eagles No. 1 back and he's the one getting the vast majority of first-team reps. If you are wondering why a high-profile pickup who is earmarked for a large role in the offense has generated little buzz, Pederson gave you the answer on Monday.
"He's quiet," the head coach said when 973espn.com asked about the 224-pound chain-mover.
"But, yet he’s a guy that asks a lot of questions on the field and in the meeting room," Pederson continued. "Takes it from the meeting room to the field. Been pleasantly surprised with him. Obviously what he put on tape prior to coming to us is exciting, and he’s fit really well."
The issues with Howard come in the passing game where he's not exactly Christian McCaffrey, something Pederson noted when he talked about the bigger issue for runners who are not equipped to play heavy third-down snaps.
"We just have to keep him coming with pass protections and techniques, but again, he’s fit really good with what we’re doing offensively,” Pederson surmised.
That's because the Eagles haven't had a three-down option at the position since Pederson returned to the organization in 2016 so the coach has become comfortable with a committee approach while Howie Roseman has wrangled to find a more well-rounded option.
Perhaps that's Sanders later in this upcoming season or in 2020 but for now it's the Chicago approach with Howard being the innings eater and the rookie, along with Darren Sproles, mixing in from there.
"I think it's going well," Howard said of his first training camp with the Eagles. "There's always some things you need to learn [with a new offense]. The goal is always production."
As for what to expect, Pederson offered up a mini-scouting report on his fourth lead back in four seasons.
"I think watching him, for me I'm standing behind the offense and just watching his vision, how he can make a back-door cut," he said. "He's a bigger back, so he's able to kind of pad level down and -- he's powerful. He can push a pile, things like that kind of -- it's hard to see sometimes on tape. But just standing back there watching, he has a good feel for the running back spot."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen