This time last year fans were drooling over the “what could be” scenarios with the Eagles running backs (myself included as I was 110% all in). It was a loaded group that was never able to get into a rhythm. Part of this was put on the OL and the other was put on the seemingly odd rotation of how these guys were used or not used in the case of DeMarco Murray. At the start of the free agency period Murray was traded to Tennessee paving the way for the Eagles to draft Delaware kid and WVA product Wendell Smallwood. Smallwood joins current hold overs Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles as the leading candidates to make the squad.
Not forgotten is last season pre-season standout Kenjon Barner. Barner gives the Eagles a boost in the return game which only adds to his value. I could see a scenario where Barner beats out Sproles for one of the running back spots. Barner is 27 and could be an upgrade over the aging 12 year vet Sproles. Sproles stayed away for a couple of OTA’s because he was under the impression the Eagles trading him. An odd back forth played out as the Eagles were not shopping him (so they say) and Darren ultimately reported. It’s been a dead issue ever since. Barner has proved to be a tough back who can with stand the NFL pounding. His glaring miss-step was late fumble against Tom Brady and the Patriots which gave them ball as the Eagles trying to run out the clock.
Joining these guys are UFDA’s Byron Marshall (Oregon) and Cedric O’Neal (Valdosta State). I view both of these guys a long shots with a slight edge to O’Neal if a spot were to open up. Last year the Eagles kept 4 running backs. I highly doubt they will keep 4 this year. After Barner’s hot summer he forced his way onto the roster. In the end I believe it will be a combination Mathews, Sproles and Smallwood to start the season.
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