There was cautious optimism surrounding Darren Sproles and the Philadelphia Eagles in the week leading up to Monday night’s game against Washington. First, he returned to practice, and then he was finally listed as active on game day — his return on Monday went far better than it did mid-season.
Sproles wasn’t limited in his return against Washington either, taking snaps on both offense and special teams. On offense, the running back had four carries for 22 yards and a touchdown.
.@DarrenSproles, officially back.#FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/orwZLxSFXh— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) December 4, 2018
That touchdown meant just as much to his teammates as it did for the 14-year veteran. Sproles is one of the most respected guys in the Eagles locker room, and him not only getting back on the field, but also scoring, was something to celebrate.
Carson Wentz says he was “extremely stoked” to see Darren Sproles score a TD in his return. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 4, 2018
Eagles players/coaches genuinely love Darren Sproles. Many smiled as they talked about how they were happy he was able to come back and score a TD tonight. He means a lot to this team.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 4, 2018
There was something peaceful about seeing Sproles back returning punts on Monday night, too. Special teams has been a bit of a plug-and-play in his absence all season, but with him down field, things didn’t seem as questionable. He returned three punts against Washington for 19 yards.
Sproles missed all but three games during the Eagles’ 2017 season, and intended to return in 2018 for one more push before retirement. He had to wait quite awhile to get back on the field, after suffering a hamstring injury in the team’s season opener.
After missing the first half of the season, he returned to practice, only to suffer yet another — albeit unrelated — hamstring injury. Having a second hamstring problem in the same year had some media members questioning the team’s new medical staff, and whether they let Sproles return too quickly.
Head coach Doug Pederson had repeatedly said that he wasn’t concerned with the medical staff, and that in terms of soft-tissue injuries, the numbers were consistent with what they endured last season. He admitted that the team had suffered more severe injuries this year, but for things like hamstring issues, he wasn’t concerned.
There are four regular seasons left, and with a must-win game against the Cowboys coming up in Week 14, having a veteran like Sproles to rely on will be invaluable.