Eagles’ Backfield Injuries Mount
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles injury situation took a turn for the worst Friday morning when the organization shut down veteran running back Darren Sproles for the season and also admitted that top rusher Jordan Howard has not yet been cleared for contact yet after suffering a stinger against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 3.
Although not ruled out by Doug Pederson at his pre-practice press conference, Howard essentially has a 48-hour window to be cleared, an unlikely scenario with the 8-1 New England Patriots on deck at Lincoln Financial Field.
“He’s been cleared to do some sort of individual work in practice but he hasn’t been cleared for contact yet,” the Eagles coach said of Howard. “That’s where he’s at.”
If Howard can’t play against the Pats, the Eagles will lean heavily on rookie Miles Sanders with second-year running back Boston Scott mixing in. Scott will also become the punt returner without Sproles available.
With depth, an issue the Eagles hosted Jay Ajayi on a visit Friday.
"We'll see where he's at physically, conditioning, see where he's at healthwise," Pederson said.
Ajayi was with Philadelphia during the past two seasons after being acquired from Miami at the 2017 trade deadline. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 5 of last season, however, and hasn’t played or practiced in over a calendar year.
Ajayi has had recent workouts with Arizona and Detroit but neither organization bit. His history with Pederson's offense gives him a leg up here at least from a familiarity standpoint and the coach did not dismiss the idea of Ajayi could play this weekend if he is signed.
Another option for the Eagles at the position is practice squad RB De’Angelo Henderson.
A 2017 sixth-round pick in Denver Henderson joined the Eagles practice squad in October after a summer stint in Minnesota. A 5-foot-7, 208-pound back has played in eight career games with the Broncos and New York Jets.
As for the 36-year-old Sproles, this is the third consecutive season he's missed significant time with a torn hip flexor being the lastest issue and one that could very well end what has been a spectacular career.
“I’ve learned this over my playing career and coaching in this league that it’s part of the game,” Pederson said of injuries. “It’s disappointing in Darren’s situation because of who he is as a person and what he’s meant to this organization, what he’s meant to this team. His leadership, he’s a Hall of Fame specialist in this league, really. I’m disappointed for him, more so than for the team, that he can’t continue.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen