The Philadelphia Eagles could use some more running back depth.
The training camp battle for the fourth spot behind the trio of Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, and Corey Clement has not gone so well.
Donnel Pumphrey looked to be the early favorite for that job by showing some improvement this offseason. But then the 2017 fourth-round pick re-injured his hamstring before the first preseason game and hasn’t returned since. In the meantime, Doug Pederson has talked about how he’s missed valuable reps.
Wendell Smallwood drew some praise from the coaching staff for his special teams ability this offseason. But he just hasn’t been impressive at all. The 2016 fifth-rounder has gained a mere 22 yards on 10 rushing attempts. He’s logged seven receiving yards on three receptions.
Matt Jones isn’t making the most of what could be his last shot in the NFL. Jones missed the Eagles’ first preseason game due to injury and then dropped three passes against the Patriots. Not the best sign for a guy who already lacks ball security.
Josh Adams might be the most intriguing option of the bunch. He showed some juice against the Steelers and will have an opportunity to stand out against the Browns. But the undrafted rookie free agent missed last week’s game in addition to sitting out all of Philadelphia’s spring practices with a lower body issue. What if that flares up yet again? Maybe Adams would be best served by spending his rookie season stashed away on injured reserve so he can focus on getting healthy for 2019.
Some might suggest that the Eagles shouldn’t keep a fourth running back at all. I don’t agree. Ajayi, who reportedly has a degenerative knee, often misses practice time (as he has thrice this week). Sproles is a 35-year-old coming off an ACL tear. Clement has been dealing with an injury issue that caused him to miss last week’s preseason game and will keep him out of this week’s as well.
Given the Eagles’ need for more depth, then, it might make sense for Philadelphia to sign a veteran back. It just so happens that two familiar options became available on the market. It also just so happens that they share the last name. I’m talking about Charcandrick West and Terrance West.
I’ll be referring to this West by the nickname Chiefs fans use: “Chark.”
Kansas City released Chark earlier today in order to receive $1.65 million in cap savings. The Chiefs just don’t need him anymore with Kareem Hunt, Spencer Ware, and Damien Williams on their roster.
The obvious Eagles connection to Chark is that he played for Doug Pederson when the now-Super Bowl winning head coach was KC’s offensive coordinator. Chark’s best season came in Pederson’s last year as OC; the 5-10, 205 pound rusher gained 634 yards on 160 rushing attempts (4.0 average) and four touchdowns. He was targeted 34 times as a receiver for 20 receptions, 214 yards (10.7 average), and one score. That’s a total of 848 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns. Pretty solid. Add in his playoff numbers and that brings the total to 959 yards and six touchdowns.
Chark’s role decreased after the 2015 season. He’s still been a solid rotational back, though, by offering 703 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns on 163 touches in the past two seasons.
Chark could be a nice depth option for the Eagles if he’s willing to accept a minimal role and be willing to contribute on special teams.
T-West was released by the Saints earlier this week despite gaining 36 yards on seven preseason rushing attempts (5.1 average) with the team.
The Eagles’ connection to T-West is that Philadelphia worked him out when he was a free agent earlier this offseason. Here’s what we wrote at the time:
West, 27, was originally selected by the Browns (who traded up to get him) at pick No. 94 overall in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He played 14 games with Cleveland before they traded him to the Titans after his rookie year. West only lasted two games with Tennessee before being cut and claimed on waivers by the Ravens in 2015. He’s remained with Baltimore until becoming a free agent this offseason.
In 43 NFL games played, West has logged 23 starts. He’s logged 465 rushing attempts for 1,816 yards (3.9 average) and 11 rushing touchdowns. As a pass-catcher, West has 51 receptions for 344 yards (6.7 average) and two scores. West also has seven career fumbles to his name.
As with Chark, T-West would give the Eagles some nice veteran depth.
The ideal situation is for one of the Eagles’ four running backs currently competing for the fourth spot to step up and seize the job down the stretch here. Maybe Adams can prove to be that guy.
But maybe things will continue to go how they’ve gone and the Eagles will find themselves needing to bring in a vet. If that’s the case, one of the Wests could be solid options. Personally, I’d prefer West.
Who should the Eagles keep as their 4th running back?
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