Doug Pederson made official Monday what has been apparent by looking at the playing time and the statistics: Darren Sproles is the Eagles' No. 1 running back — not Ryan Mathews.
"By stats and by what you're seeing, I would say that Darren is the No. 1 back right now," Pederson said. "Ryan is still a big part [of the offense]; you saw the touchdown run that he had yesterday. Kenjon [Barner] had a nice run. Wendell [Smallwood] had a nice run. So it's still a little bit of the running back by committee. Obviously, we haven't hung our hat on one guy, but we tend to lean more towards Darren Sproles. It's hard to take him off the field right now."
Sproles has played at least 80 percent of the snaps in the last two games and has 36 combined offensive touches during that period. Mathews has just eight snaps and 10 touches in those games. He started the season as the No. 1 back, but the Eagles have played Sproles as many or more snaps in every game, and that difference has taken off in recent weeks.
"Darren was obviously the hot hand [in the Dallas game] and [we] just kept feeding Darren, keeping him going and same thing this week," Pederson said. "Ryan was — we were going into this game plan with certain personnel groups that Ryan was going to be in on, Darren was going to be in on. You saw the one touchdown run that Ryan had in this game that was a nice little cut."
Pederson said Mathews was affected by an infected tooth against Dallas. That caused swelling in Mathews' cheek, making it difficult for him to wear a helmet.
Mathews still has more carries (76), yards (287), and touchdowns (5) than Sproles, who is up to 59 carries for 285 yards and still has not rushed for a touchdown. But Sproles has 28 carries during the last two games, is averaging 4.8 yards per carry, and his receiving and blocking ability are keeping him on the field.
Eagles tight end Brent Celek fractured a rib in Sunday's loss to the New York Giants, but Pederson expects Celek to play this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Celek has missed only one game in his 10-year career.
Safety Terrence Brooks is "week-to-week" with a right hamstring strain. Left guard Allen Barbre and linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill continue to recover from hamstring strains, with Grugier-Hill getting closer to playing.
Defensive tackle Bennie Logan is "doing better" after missing three games with a groin injury and is expected to practice Wednesday.
Bucs sign Huff