As he returns for his 14th and final season, the 35 year old Darren Sproles is ready to embrace his set role in the Eagle’s offense. The torn ACL and broken arm suffered during Week 3 of the 2017 NFL season only provided extra motivation for Sproles to come back better than ever.
“An injury is different; It’s something you don’t have any control over but I feel like I left a lot out there, and I couldn’t let my career end like that.”
Although most running backs his age are washed up and out of the NFL, Sproles has been able to elongate his career by being one of the shiftiest backs in the NFL. However, with a crowded Eagle’s backfield, Sproles has simply accepted the fact that he may not get as many touches this season. With Jay Ajayi at the helm of the Eagle’s running game, and Corey Clement breaking out in the Superbowl, Sproles is going to serve a different role this season.
He will be a mentor to the younger running backs.
This is not something new to Sproles. He has been helping Corey Clement ever since the young back entered the Novacare facility as an undrafted rookie in 2017. Although Sproles himself did not play in Super Bowl 52, he assisted Clement thoroughly in preparing for the big game. From watching film and giving pointers on how to exploit the New England defense, Sproles served as a teacher to Clement. Now, as Clement gets ready to see his role expand in the offense, Sproles will again be at his side, assisting him throughout the process. With the tips and help of Darren Sproles, Corey Clement can be expected to have a huge breakout season in 2018. Clement’s sturdy frame and exceptional short area quickness make him a threat out of the backfield and as a runner. This opens up Doug Pederson to a plethora of new playcalls to increase the offensive output.
Pederson has already praised the work that Corey Clement has done in training camp so far stating that he has “come in to attack camp early on.”
The three-headed monster that the Eagle’s have at running back will allow Groh and Pederson to exploit opposing defenses. Ajayi will shoulder most of the carries, with Clement not far behind. Sproles will mostly be utilized in pass catching situations.
Offensive coordinator Mike Groh is excited for what Sproles provides to the Eagles during the upcoming season stating, “It’s fun to see 43 out there with the ball in his hands. I know that. People on defense got to be conscious of where he is. He’s a weapon for us. Somebody that we haven’t seen in the huddle in along time. So, every time he gets the ball in his hands, I know I get excited.”
With the readdition of Sproles, the Eagles offense is shaping up to even more explosive than it was in 2018, where it already ranked 3rd in the entire NFL in scoring. Darren Sproles will bring a sturdy veteran presence to the Eagle’s running back room, which will be invaluable to the team’s success this upcoming season.
Although Sproles will provide immense value to the Eagles as a running back, he will do his best work on special teams. As one of the NFL’s best punt returners, Sproles will continue to do his damage in the return game in the 2018 season. From 2014-2016, Sproles was spectacular in the return game, fielding “94 punts total for 1,176 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 12.5 yards per return”(2). Even at age 35, Sproles can be counted upon to set up the Eagle’s offense in superb field position with his dangerous open field ability in the punt game. Dave Fipp can utilize Sproles in the return game to keep the Eagle’s special teams near the top of the league for the 2018 season.
Darren Sproles’ upcoming season with the Philadelphia Eagles will mark the end of his storied career. As the Bird’s try not to get hit with the infamous Super Bowl hangover, Sproles will have a significant impact the team. With the incentive to win his second Super Bowl in a row, expect the 35 year old Darren Sproles to do big things in 2018.
Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports