Dec 20, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles (43) carries the ball as Washington Redskins inside linebackerPerry Riley
(56) chases in the second quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Darren Sproles – The Invisible Man – at 5’6″, running back Darren Sproles is not going to power through many tackles, hit a pile and drive it forward, or even drag defenders down the field. The key to Sproles production is his ability to get lost to a defense. At his height, he falls out of sight to a defender who is trying to locate him behind huge offensive linemen. It’s that ability to become “invisible” to the defense that makes him such an incredibly dangerous offensive weapon. He is as sure-handed as they come, catching nearly 80% of the passes thrown his way. And when he is used as a rusher, his style is a complete change of pace that it throws defenses off. His first year as a Philadelphia Eagle found his running for more touchdowns than he did in his three years with the New Orleans Saints, and tied his rushing touchdowns in his entire five years with the San Diego Chargers.
Sproles is best when he touches the ball between eight to twelve times per game. In 2011 with the Saints, Sproles was involved in just over his maximum. In 2014 with the Eagles, he was just under that number. The reason Sproles fell short was a late game injury to the New York Giants, where he injured his knee late in the game. With Chris Polk already injured, the team needed to throw tight end Trey Burton into the backfield to handle the carries at the end of that game. Before he was injured, Sproles had 32 carries 211 yards and three touchdowns. He would only carry the ball 24 more times for 118 yards and three touchdowns the remainder of the season.
"“For us, especially in the beginning of the year, (Sproles) was our only other running back,” Kelly said. “So when you try to move him around and put him in a lot of different spots you’re kind of holding your breath. Early, I can’t remember if it was one or two games, our third running back was (tight end) Trey Burton because Chris (Polk) was injured, so that’s why our goal in this off-season, if we moved LeSean, was that we wanted to bring two guys in and we wanted to have some depth at the running back spot and possibly carry four guys during the season. There’s a lot factored into that, but I think obviously in year two we have a lot more familiarity in what we’re doing and in getting acclimated more we need to get (Sproles) on the field more.” – Chip Kelly interview during NFL Owners’ Meeting"