Jordan Howard has been a revelation for the Philadelphia Eagles, arguably the best running back on the team. One problem, the one-time Pro Bowler isn’t technically on the roster.
The Eagles stashed Howard on the practice squad to start the year. He’s been protected and elevated in back-to-back weeks, although they’ll have to make a decision on his future if they want to keep him. Teams can only use two standard elevations per season on one player. The 222-pounder has hit his limit. The Eagles will either have to sign him to the 53 or wait until someone goes on the COVID-19 list.
The other shoe waiting to drop is the return of starter Miles Sanders. He could be coming off injured reserve soon, a move which takes away another roster spot. Head coach Nick Sirianni oddly seems reluctant to commit to Howard despite 128 yards and three touchdowns over his last two games. He’s averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
“He’s played really good football these last two games, sure glad we have him,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “And, yeah, that’s something that we don’t have to think about right now. I’m just really in a short-term point of view and mind. That’s just I think the way you have to think in this league, that you can’t think about what happened in the past. You learn from it and get better from it, but you got to be in the moment.”
Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen offered the same wait-and-see approach. The unwillingness to permanently add Howard to the roster might be the most perplexing decision so far. He is head and shoulders above Boston Scott or Kenneth Gainwell.
“Jordan is playing good football right now,” Steichen said. “When Miles comes back, we’ll cross that bridge when it gets there. But right now, we’re focused on Denver.”
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No Lack of Confidence in Gainwell
Gainwell looked like the clear-cut favorite to replace Sanders immediately following the starter’s ankle injury. He had a stellar training camp where he flashed lightning quick cuts and good hands out of the backfield. He scored a touchdown in his first NFL game while seeing 25 snaps.
But he’s been gradually phased out of the offense and barely had a role against the Chargers, although he did manage to snake a touchdown on just two carries. The fifth-rounder has 41 rushes for 150 yards and three touchdowns, plus 164 yards on 19 receptions and another score in nine games.
“Kenny is improving every week. Obviously, he’s a rookie. He’s getting better every week,” Steichen said. “Boston [Scott] is playing good. Jordan [Howard] is playing good. And Kenny, obviously, he scored a touchdown there, too. So, all those guys, it’s a committee and those guys are working hard to get better and keep playing good.”
Sirianni, Roseman ‘Talk About Everything’
One of the reported disconnects between outgoing coach Doug Pederson and general manager Howie Roseman had to do with input on player personnel. Pederson wanted more say in that stuff but the front office wouldn’t allow it.
Has there been a cultural shift in that dynamic this season? Sirianni made it sound like the lines of communication were wide open when asked about it.
“We talk about everything. Howie [Roseman] and I, we talk about everything,” Sirianni said. “The communication with everything, right? And so, players, that’s obviously our biggest talking point is the players on this football team. So, it’s everything. We are evaluating. We’re talking through who played well, who played poorly, who played okay, why they did what they did, all sorts of things like that.”