Minus Jay Ajayi, Eagles turn to banged-up group
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Losing Jay Ajayi means the Philadelphia Eagles will have to turn to a banged-up committee of running backs.
While the front office ponders making a deal to replace Ajayi, the Eagles (2-3) will rely on the group it has Thursday night against the New York Giants (1-4). Only two of the remaining four backs are healthy.
Veteran Darren Sproles missed the past four games with a hamstring injury and didn’t practice Tuesday, so it’s unlikely he’ll be ready to go. Corey Clement was back on the field after sitting out the last two games because of a quadriceps injury. Clement would likely get most of the touches if he’s able to play.
Wendell Smallwood and undrafted rookie Josh Adams should also see plenty of action.
“Big shoes to fill,” quarterback Carson Wentz said of losing Ajayi, who tore his ACL. “He was a violent, downhill runner that sought contact and loved to feed off that, and that got us going. But we feel confident in these guys stepping up. We saw Wendell step up and make plays. Getting Corey back will be big for us. Josh is going to have to increase his role. Hopefully, Sproles comes back soon. We have a stable of workhorses but it’s tough losing Jay.”
Personnel boss Howie Roseman is certainly looking around to see if he can bring in another running back that fits Philadelphia’s needs — at the right price. There’s already been speculation the Eagles could pursue LeSean McCoy, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher traded by Chip Kelly to Buffalo in 2015.
Ajayi was acquired from Miami at the trade deadline last season and helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl.
“I think with any new player, regardless of who you’re talking of, there is a learning curve involved,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said.
Ajayi had 184 yards rushing, an average of 4.1 yards per carry, and three touchdowns this season. Clement has 112 yards rushing, an average of 4.1 yards per carry and one TD, plus eight catches for 74 yards. Smallwood has 150 yards rushing, a 6.0 average, and one TD on the ground and one receiving. Adams has seven carries.
“Jay is a big part of what we’ve done,” Groh said. “It’s an injury that will impact us here until we get the guys back out there. Wendell has done a really nice job in the playing time he’s gotten thus far in the season. Really pleased with his production, he’s done a nice job. Corey is progressing with his injury. We’re happy with the guys we got. We think we still have talented players to be able to be really good at the running back position.”