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3:41 AM / Thursday October 1, 2020

3 Sep 2018

Local star and other Birds backs vying for final spot on Eagles roster

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September 3, 2018 Category: Sports Posted by:
Above photo: Eagles rookie free agent running back Josh Adams.
Photo:Philadelphiaeagles.com

Josh Adams is just one of the many running backs who are hoping to be left off of the Philadelphia Eagles final cut list.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

For the next 24 hours or so, players like Eagles rookie free agent running back Josh Adams are going to be wondering if they did everything possible to win one of a few remaining roster spots on the Philadelphia Eagles final 53-man roster.

After Thursday night’s final preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field against the New York Jets, the Eagles have until 4 pm on Saturday to cut the roster to 53 players. By the way, the Eagles defeated the Jets 10-9 to go 1-4 on the preseason.

If they don’t make it onto the Eagles roster, the players on the bubble maybe have been impressive enough on tape to be picked up on waivers by another team that has a need at their particular position. Some will be picked up by the practice squad and others will have to face the grim reality that this is the end of their football careers.

In the case of Adams, it is safe to say that he has made the most of his opportunity to make the Eagles roster as the fourth running back. The former Notre Dame star has arguably outperformed players like third-year running back Wendell Smallwood, who has performed well in the preseason, veteran Matt Jones who has played little during the preseason and 2017 fourth-round pick Donnel Pumphrey, who didn’t play in his first preseason game until Thursday’s game against the Jets.

Prior to Thursday’s game, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said he would get a closer look at Adams, who was averaging 6.3 yards per carry in his games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns on just 10 carries. For most of the game, Adams got all the carries, gaining 27 yards on 13 carries with a long run of six yards.

Pederson said he has been impressed with Adams throughout training camp and the preseason.

“(Adams) has done some nice things,” Pederson said. “He missed the offseason a little bit with an injury. He was playing catch-up. He came to training camp and he was ready to go and then he had a little setback again and got healthy from that.”

Pederson said Adams and the other backs have done a good enough job to make it a hard decision for the coaching staff.

“He’s done a nice job. We’ve asked a lot of him as a young player,” Pederson said. “Without making a fair evaluation after watching the tape and watching the full body of work because he’s also played some special teams. We have to factor that in and see where he is in these next couple of days”

At the very least, the former Central Bucks North star has made the most of his carries whenever he has gotten in the game. During those few times carrying the football, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Adams has shown flashes of being a good inside runner. The only caveat to that is that he was playing against primarily second, third and fourth stringers.

“I feel like I’ve tried to take advantage of all my opportunities where ever they came,” Adams said after the game. “In practice this week, it was a good opportunity for me to get out there and see what it would be like to get ready for a role where you’re getting a lot of snaps on special teams and the offense. I took advantage of all those things and I feel like I did a good job.”

On the flipside of that, Adams has had more opportunities than Pumphrey, who has been hurt for most of the preseason. Pumphrey came into the game late in the second half and caught three passes for 39 yards including one for 24 yards.

Some people close to the Eagles say that the organization still believes in Pumphrey and will probably end up on the practice squad.

The Birds got a good look at Jones, who gained 54 yards on nine carries against the Jets third and fourth stringers. He also caught four passes for 24 yards including the game-winning touchdown pass with 18 seconds left. It’s highly unlikely that he will be part of the Birds 53-man roster, but he has something on tape for other teams to review.

When the Eagles drafted Pumphrey last season in the fourth round he was highly-touted as heir apparent to veteran all-purpose back Darren Sproles. He came into the league out of San Diego State as the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher. But hamstring injuries have severely limited Pumphrey’s time on the field. He spent his rookie season on injured reserve. It didn’t help that he didn’t play well during the 2017 preseason.

Meanwhile, Smallwood, who has battled his share of injuries during his first two seasons, had his best performance on the field in the Birds third preseason against the Cleveland Browns. He gained 53 yards on 12 carries, but he didn’t play in Thursday’s game.

Now that could mean that he may have secured that fourth spot.

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But you never know.

 

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