The Eagles originally re-signed Ajayi back in mid-November after Howard got hurt and Darren Sproles suffered a season-ending injury. He was expected to be the team’s No. 2 running back behind Miles Sanders and that’s the role he played at one point before it became painfully clear he was ineffective. Ajayi’s 10 carries went for a mere 30 yards. He blew a critical pass protection assignment in Week 13 and dropped his sole target in Week 14.
With Ajayi struggling, the Eagles turned to Boston Scott to be Sanders’ backup. The decision paid off as Scott has provided Philadelphia with a much-needed spark. The Eagles have gone 3-0 using the primary combination of Sanders and Scott in recent weeks.
Ajayi was active for the Eagles’ last two games but did not play a single snap on offense or special teams. He was clearly a waste of a roster spot. BGN made the case for the Eagles to waive him just earlier today.
The Jay Train should always be remembered fondly for his contributions to the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII victory but re-signing him turned out to be a waste of time. The Eagles similarly wasted time by re-re-signing Jordan Matthews instead of just giving Greg Ward an opportunity.
What the Eagles do with the roster spot that Ajayi leaves behind remains to be seen. Promoting a wide receiver (Marken Michel?) from the practice squad makes sense since the Eagles only have Ward, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and Robert Davis at that position on the 53-man roster. (And JJAW has been dealing with a nagging foot issue.)
As for Howard, well, it’s a bit of a surprise to see he’s finally back. It felt like he might just not return in 2019 after being out since suffering a stinger injury back on November 3. Doug Pederson called Howard’s injury “day-to-day” at one point but he’s been out for 50 days as of today.
It’ll be pretty interesting to see how the Eagles handle their running back rotation with Howard coming back. Howard was the team’s leading rusher prior to getting hurt but Sanders has really stepped up down the stretch. The aforementioned Scott has also played well. Howard’s averaging 4.4 yards per attempt this season so it’s hardly like he’s a waste of touches. But he’s not quite as explosive or shifty as Sanders/Scott and he’s not as big of a factor as a pass catcher. What Howard does offer is better efficiency in short-yardage situations given his tough-running, rarely-takes-a-loss style. The Eagles’ coaching staff must find a way to best manage the running back rotation.
The Eagles have yet to officially confirm the Ajayi news. Stay tuned for more roster updates.