Doug Pederson praised Daren Sproles recently.
When the Philadelphia Eagles 2016 season ended, it was quietly speculated in a few small circles that Darren Sproles might be done. Head coach Doug Pederson shut all the noise down quickly. “I want Darren Sproles on this football team. We want him on this football team. He’s a big part of this football team. That’s where we’re at.”
Most Eagles fans would agree. Sproles has been a valuable addition to both the offense and special teams unit. His coaches and teammates love him. His head coach beams whenever he’s brought up.
What Sproles brings to the offense
Perhaps it’s the head coach’s assessment of Sproles that describes him best.
"Sproles is a guy that creates match up problems on defense, or against the defense, and we’re going to move him around; we are not necessarily going to keep him in the backfield. His role will be extensive, both offensively and also on special teams, and I’m excited to kind of get to see what he can do this week a little bit. Well on special teams, we know what he [Sproles] can do and he’s the primary guy, the return guy there, and offensively he becomes a big part of what we do,"
Donnel Pumphrey is the future
Pederson said all the right things, but, as we know, football is a business. Donnel Pumphrey was selected in the fourth round of the most recent draft. It just so happens that Pumphrey’s skill set is eerily similar to that of Darren Sproles. Both are shifty backs who present immediate danger to defenders when they come out the backfield. They both also have a knack for returning punts and kickoffs. In fact, what Pederson said of Sproles, can very easily be said in relation to Pumphrey.
Pumphrey’s been impressive in practice when he’s gotten reps. Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said Pumphrey has “exceeded expectations as a pass-catcher so far.”
The rookie has yet to see live action, so it’s unknown how he’ll fair in live game action, so we’ll all have to see. In the meantime, the Eagles appear to be in decent shape when Sproles calls it a career. He’s already been running with the first-team offense in camp.