Rookie Byron Marshall Could See a Bigger Role Sunday
Eagles coach Doug Pederson indicated running back Byron Marshall should see an increased workload on Sunday in Philadelphia’s regular-season finale against Dallas. With Ryan Mathews, Kenjon Barner, and Wendell Smallwood all on I.R., the Eagles only healthy running backs at the moment are Marshall and Darren Sproles.
"Right now the plan is Darren [Sproles], but for sure see Byron [Marshall] a little bit more on first and second down probably, and even in some third-down situations," Pederson admitted. "I think he learned a lot from the Baltimore game playing and sort of calming himself down in that game, and he had a couple of nice runs. Had a nice little 12-yarder in that game, something to learn and build from. But his role will definitely increase this week a little bit."
Marshall carried the ball 11 times in the game in Baltimore two weeks ago, but did not carry the ball last week against New York. Pederson said Marshall would be ready to carry a heavier load if needed.
"He's been here all season and went through camp with us and is very familiar with offensively with what we're doing, been in all the meetings, and [Eagles RBs coach] Duce [Staley] does a great job of getting those guys prepared," said Pederson. "So, his role will obviously pick up a little bit more this week."
Philadelphia’s injury list was short on Wednesday but it included Jordan Matthews sitting out with an ankle injury, and left guard Allen Barbre who has a hamstring injury. Pederson said on Wednesday that both guys should be ready to go on Sunday.
One of those injured tailbacks is Ryan Mathews, who will miss the final week of the season with a herniated disc in his neck. The Eagles placed him on the injured reserve on Tuesday, opening a spot on their 53-man roster. Pederson said on Wednesday no decision has been made on who that player will be just yet.
"Haven't done anything yet," Pederson explained. "Again, as kind of what we've done in the past, we just kind of wait and see how the week goes, and we do have [RB Terrell] Watson obviously on the practice squad, and that's definitely a possibility. But nothing at this time."
With Marshall and Sproles the only healthy running backs on track to play Sunday, the presumption would be that the Eagles would activate another running back for the game on Sunday.
"Yeah, I would like for it to be a running back," Pederson admitted. "And again, with [Terrell] Watson sitting right there, it would be a no-brainer for us. But again, we'll wait and see later in the week how things go."
As for Marshall, the Eagles should take a nice look at the rookie, with Sproles getting older and Mathews injury concerns, Marshall could open some eyes and could put himself on the Eagles radar with a solid game on Sunday.
Here’s what Pederson had to say about what stands out about Marshall's abilities:
"Receiving I think is probably one of his strengths. I think out of the backfield, he's extremely elusive; he's quick. As a runner, he's got a great sort of a first jump-cut type move that is very elusive, and you see it in practice when he's going against our defense. Those are things we've got to see carry over obviously into a game."