The Eagles elevated four players from the practice squad to the active roster on Saturday, including power running back Elijah Holyfield. The son of the boxing legend had been in the mix for the fourth spot in the backfield during training camp but failed to impress. Philadelphia released Holyfield and then signed him to the practice squad where he’s been all year.
Holyfield, who went undrafted in 2019 out of Georgia, has noticeable size at 5-foot-10 and 217 pounds and runs with an aggressive edge. The Eagles called him up to the active roster last January before their wild-card playoff game versus Seattle but made him a healthy scratch on game day. He has yet to appear in an NFL game after racking up 1,340 yards and nine touchdowns in 27 games at Georgia.
Holyfield spent a few months on the Panthers roster before being joining Philly last year. There was early optimism that the “hungry back” might have a larger role in 2020, possibly as the team’s goal-line back.
“He’s a hundred miles per hour every play,” assistant head coach Duce Staley told reporters in August. “He’s going to get in there. He’s a physical specimen. He’s going to get in there and knock you around with protection. Special teams, he’s going to run down and he’s going to knock you around a little bit. I like where he is. He’s hungry. He’s out to prove to everybody, all the doubters at least, he’s out to prove to them that he can play.”
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Holyfield Joins Crowded Backfield in Philly
Holyfield joins a crowded backfield that includes starter Miles Sanders, along with change-of-pace backs Boston Scott and Corey Clement. The Eagles also added Jordan Howard to the practice squad earlier this week.
The major knock on Holyfield was his sluggish wheels. The 22-year-old power back was timed at 4.78 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, although Staley admitted that he plays a lot faster than the clock showed. Some guys just look quicker in pads.
“I think he plays faster than what his 40 represents,” Staley said. “Hey, that 40 is a nerve-wracking deal man. You have to get up there, do everything right. Sometimes you don’t run the time that you want to run initially and then you go back and run slower. It’s a lot of pressure that’s involved versus getting out there and just telling him to pin your ears back and run, and you see a lot of guys like that even play faster. Look at Jerry Rice, for example. Prime example.”
Rice went down as the greatest wide receiver and arguably the best football player of all-time. Period. He ran the 40 in a disappointing 4.71 seconds.
Eagles Call Up 3 COVID-19 Replacements
The Eagles also elevated defensive tackle T.Y. McGill, defensive end Joe Ostman and tight end Caleb Wilson from the practice squad as COVID-19 replacements. They will fill the roster spots vacated by receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, defensive end Vinny Curry and running back Corey Clement. Arcega-Whiteside reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 while Curry and Clement were in close contact with someone who did.
The team will also be without two offensive coaches on Sunday who remain in the COVID-19 protocol: Press Taylor (passing-game coordinator/quarterbacks coach) and Aaron Moorehead (wide receivers coach). Neither man will be on the sideline on Sunday. According to The Inquirer‘s Jeff McLane, Taylor tested negative so there is no fear that Carson Wentz has the virus.
The Eagles will also be missing senior defensive assistant Jeremiah Washburn who tested positive last week. Connor Barwin took over his coaching duties and did a stellar job instructing the team’s defensive line.
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