Darren Sproles Returns a Boost to the Eagles Offense

Darren Sproles Returns a Boost to the Eagles Offense
As if the Eagles didn’t have a strong enough offense, the unit received a major boost when running back Darren Sproles decided to return for a 15th season.
 
Sproles, who turned 36 on June 20, has been plagued by injuries his last two years, but when he is on the field, the former star at Kansas State is still a dynamic player.
 
In 2017, the year the Eagles won the Super Bowl, Sproles suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third game of the season against the New York Giants. He returned last year, only to suffer a hamstring injury in the first game that forced him to miss the next 10.
 
That said, he returned for the final five games and saw action in both playoff games. In fact, he had 13 carries (for just 21 yards) in the 16-15 wild card win over the Chicago Bears. The next week he had 3 carries for 4 yards and three receptions for 21 yards in the 20-14 divisional playoff loss at New Orleans.
 
Sproles only had 29 carries in the regular season. He also returned nine punts for 83 yards.
 
The Eagles have added depth at the running back position, but Sproles should find a role, in addition to likely returning punts.
 
Despite being just 5-foot-6 and 190-pounds, he is pound for pound, one of the best pass blockers in the NFL. He is also a major threat as a receiver coming out of the backfield and is among the top punt returners in NFL history.
 
According to the Eagles, Sproles is the only player in NFL history with 30 or more receiving TDs, 20 plus rushing TDs, one plus kickoff return for a TD and one plus punt return for a TD.
 
He played his first six years with the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers and spent three seasons with the New Orleans Saints. Sproles is entering his sixth season with the Eagles.
 
For his career he has rushed for 3,486 yards (4.9 average) and 23 TDs. He has 547 receptions for 4,816 yards and 32 scores. Sproles has averaged 25.2 yards and scored twice on 332 kickoff returns and averaged 9.6 yards and scored seven times on 300 punt returns.
 
It’s been suggested that Sproles could be a borderline Hall of Fame player, with his outstanding versatility.
 
He joined the Eagles in 2014 and earned three straight Pro Bowl berths as a return man following the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons. He leads all active NFL players and ranks sixth all time with 19,520 career all-purpose hands and his nine return touchdowns are tied for sixth most in NFL history.
 
While all that is impressive, it’s what he can do presently that is most important to the Eagles. Sproles is among the most finely conditioned athletes in the NFL and if he can stay healthy (a big if) it appears as though he will have a big impact on the Eagles.
 
Besides his production, he is also among the most respected players on the team.
 
The Eagles acquired Jordan Howard in the offseason to be the No. 1 running back and they have ample depth. Corey Clement, the former star at Glassboro High and star in the 41-33 Super Bowl LII win over New England, is returning from ACL surgery, but if healthy should be a factor. The Eagles also drafted Penn State running back Miles Sanders in the second round. In addition, there is veteran Wendell Smallwood and second-year running back Josh Adams, plus Boston Scott and Donnel Pumphrey.
 
Injuries, especially at the running back position occur, so a team can’t have enough depth at the position, but Sproles has the potential to at the least, be a dangerous third down back and punt returner and his big-play ability is certainly valued by the Eagles.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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