Will the Eagles’ leading rusher from last season even make the team this year?
The question has been asked around Eagles camp regarding second-year player Josh Adams, the local product from Central Bucks South and Notre Dame.
With added depth at running back, there might not be enough carries or, more important, a roster spot for Adams, who made the team as an rookie free agent last year. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder rushed for 511 yards, most by an undrafted rookie in team history. Adams averaged 4.3 yards and scored three touchdowns.
“Whatever happened last year is already gone and paid for, so you have to kind of do it again this year and continue to prove yourself,” Adams said after Monday’s practice. “I don’t think you ever can sit and lay back on what you did in the past. I think every guy in the room has to go out there and prove themselves.”
That is true, but the Eagles added more depth in the offseason when they acquired Jordan Howard in a trade with the Chicago Bears and drafted Penn State’s Miles Sanders in the second round.
Those two have been getting most of the reps in camp. Then there is 36-year-old Darren Sproles, a major receiving threat out of the backfield who, despite his size (5-6, 190), is strong in pass protection. Sproles is also a dangerous return man.
Then there is Super Bowl hero Corey Clement, who suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss the final three regular-season and the two playoff games last season. He has recently been progressing.
There is also fourth-year back Wendell Smallwood, the Eagles’ second-leading rusher last year with 364 yards (4.2 avg.) and three touchdowns.
The other running back on the roster is Boston Scott, who was signed by the Eagles in December and appeared in the last two regular-season games and the two playoff games. He returned seven kicks for 153 yards.
One name taken off the list was Donnel Pumphrey, who was recently moved from running back to wide receiver.
Adams was virtually a non-factor last season during the playoffs. He had just one carry (for 2 yards) in the Eagles’ 16-15 opening playoff victory at Chicago and did not play the next week in their 20-14 loss at New Orleans.
Adams realizes that Thursday’s second preseason game in Jacksonville is big for him.
“I think there is always urgency, but you have to know the clock is winding down and less and less time," he said. "But you have to stay locked in, stay focused, and take advantage of those reps.”
In the preseason-opening to the Tennessee Titans, none of the Eagles running backs had a big game or many carries. The Eagles averaged just 2.2 yards on 17 attempts. Adams rushed for 3 yards on three carries. He also played on special teams on the kick and punt returns and kickoffs.
Offensive coordinator Mike Groh was asked what he feels Adams has to do to make the team.
“He just has to come out here every day and, first of all, do his job, be assignment sound,” Groh said Monday. “And run the way that we know Josh is capable of running -- and obviously we are spreading the ball around right now, trying to evaluate everybody -- and make the most of his opportunities when he gets them.”
Adams, who had seven receptions for 58 yards last year, says the only thing he can do is keep grinding.