Philadelphia Eagles running back Donnel Pumphrey may be improving

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 08: Donnel Pumphrey
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 08: Donnel Pumphrey /

Don’t kick Donnel Pumphrey off the Eagles roster quite yet.

Yes, he’s 170 pounds. Sure, we may have all jumped the gun by anointing him as the second coming of Darren Sproles. Still, there’s something about Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Donnel Pumphrey that’s hard to forget no matter how you size him up (no pun intended).

He’s still the NCAA Division I FBS all-time leader in rushing yards. There’s only one man that can say that, and he sits on the Eagles roster.

A slow start:

Despite some flashes during rookie minicamps and OTAs and again during the Eagles official team training camp, Pumphrey’s had some issues during the preseason. Many believe he’s been passed on the depth chart by undrafted rookie free agent Corey Clement. There’s even been some talk that Pumphrey may not be good enough to make the 53-man roster.

Much of it can be attributed to the speed of the NFL game and how easy it is to take for granted that there will be an adjustment process.

Pumphrey had this to say:

"The speed of the game really is a lot faster than in college. So I’m just adjusting right now to the game speed. It’s a lot faster. On punt return, you think there’s an opening there, and by the time (I get there), those guys have pursued it. So that’s the biggest adjustment I have to make."

Despite trying to field a punt that he probably should have stayed away from, Pumphrey looked better in the Eagles’ third preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. 17 touches (12 runs and five receptions) led to 74 total yards.

He had this to say shortly thereafter:

"(It) definitely felt good just to get those carries and get back into the groove and the flow of the game. I felt very comfortable as the game continued to go on. I didn’t expect to go into the game that early, in the first half, because we thought the starters would play more, but whenever they call my number I just have to make plays. There were a couple runs I want back. The offensive line blocked their tails off, and I had a couple 50-yarders that I could have broke, but I do feel like I’m getting back into the groove. Somewhat."

Moving forward:

None of the starters will see the field against the New York Jets in the Eagles final preseason game. That means more on-field time for Pumphrey. Thursday night will go a long way in determining if the Eagles rookie is truly one of the guys who are on the outside looking in when it’s time to decide who’s on the 53-man roster or if he’s capable of being the guy many of us believed him to be in the first place.

It’s safe to say fans will be tuning in to see what happens.