Infusion of veterans has helped propel future of Eagles most vital positions


After four weeks and three wins, it’s safe to say that the Eagles are a talented football team. They’re also a franchise that has an abundance of potential developing and waiting in the wings, marinating until their time at the top arrives. To help what could be turn into what will be, the Eagles brought in some new faces during the offseason. Players who can not only impact the game, but the locker room.

The backfield is a great place to start. After two dismal weeks running the ball and an injury to Darren Sproles, the Eagles were left with a struggling LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, and an undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin. The veteran Pats running back has set the league alight over the last two weeks and has been supported by a committee of angry running backs who are able to take inspiration from how hard last year’s leader in rushing touchdowns is able to push through adversity.

The Eagles backfield totalled 200 yards on Sunday and after already establishing just how impressive they were one week ago, with Clement and Smallwood both scoring their first touchdowns of the season during that timeframe. Blount may be the battering ram, but the two young guns are just as important…that was shown during the reliance on Clement during the team’s 6:44 drive to seal the game on Sunday.

For Blount, the mantra is simple. Work hard and the results will come. That’s what he told reporters after the team’s week three win over New York.

“We got a good stable of running backs.” Blount said. “We got a lot of guys out here that can do everything they want us to do. We have to continue to do what they want us to do. Make sure we work hard and grind for it every single day of the week and make sure we are prepared to come out and fight.”

If Blount were to go down with injury, the Eagles would be left in a tough spot. The belief in what Blount says from both Clement and Smallwood gives the team an insurance policy as such, with two backs who could arguably step in at a moments notice to carry the load.

A little further outside, the insertion of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith has already proved its worth. Not only has Nelson Agholor totalled 173 yards and two touchdowns through the opening four weeks, flashing the potential the Eagles believe him to possess coming out of USC, but even Mack Hollins has been able to flash at times in Pederson’s Offense.

With Mike Groh tutoring the young corps through the rigours of the NFL season, the impact both Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith have had in the locker room is magnificent. The work ethic leftover by Jordan Matthews has been picked up by the new infusion of talent, with players staying behind after practices throughout the Summer to work and hone their craft. It’s clear there is a new sense of unity at the wide receiver position. A sense of becoming one cohesive unit as opposed to a group of individuals being dropped into games and pulled out just as quickly. The mentorship and leadership showed by the veterans has brought nothing but positivity to the locker room…and it’s transfusing into what we see on the field.

Finally, there’s Chris Long. Both Long and Blount were part of the Patriots Super Bowl winning dynasty and understand what it takes to be successful at this level. With a combined 17 years experience between them, they have rapidly become members of the team that the next generation of Eagles can look up to with confidence.

The most exciting play in the win over LA may well have been Long’s forced fumble. Long brought the hammer and hustled to an escaping Phillip Rivers in order to knock the ball loose, only to be recovered by Derek Barnett, the team’s first round pick. On one side of the field is a savvy veteran who is very quickly finding his home. On the other, a rookie with the potential to become one of thefts at his position. What Barnett has learned from Long, Brandon Graham, and even Jason Peters throughout Training Camp is absolutely crucial to his development. That word is what it’s all about in this new era of Eagles football.

“Those are very helpful, beneficial, because they’re a big impact to what we’re doing and the success we’ve had this early part of the season.” Peterson told reporters on Monday. “And the other thing, too, is these are veteran players who have been on, in Chris’s case, he’s have been on Championship teams, they know how to work. They know how to practice. They know how to prepare. And that’s what you want. You want those types of guys in and around your football team.”

“So we’ve got a good group of veteran leadership players that way, that have really bought into — whether it’s whatever I’m speaking about or selling. But they’re buying into each other. And that’s the key.”

The future is bright, but it all starts with the past.


Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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