Eagles second-year running back Kenny Gainwell has an opportunity for a big season. He is the backup, along with Boston Scott, behind starter Miles Sanders.
Gainwell showed plenty of potential last year, gaining 291 yards on 68 carries, with five touchdowns. He caught 33 passes for 253 yards and one touchdown.
The fifth-round draft pick from Memphis can be that running and pass-catching back that helps an offense thrive — and provides a safety valve receiving option for quarterback Jalen Hurts. And given Sanders’ patchy injury history, Gainwell might get numerous touches.
“Kenny’s a great player,” Hurts said. “Definitely made big-time plays for us last year. Catches the ball well. Runs the ball well. Hits the hole.
“I’ve seen his mindset change. I’ve seen his approach to things; I’ve seen it change. I know he’s hungry. I love a hungry guy on my team. I’m excited to see him go at it this year.”
Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen sees Gainwell doing more this season and sees an opportunity for progress.
“Kenny’s done a nice job,” Steichen said. “I think any time from Year One to Year Two you want to see that jump and that growth, and you can see it on the practice field.
“Just the understanding of how we want to run things in ball-handling, in the run game and in the pass game. Just how to set up defenders coming out of the backfield. He’s learning and he’s doing a good job.”
FOR HURTS, PRACTICING FOR SUCCESS
The first 10 days of Eagles training camp have been a mixed message from Hurts.
Good day, not good day. Great day, ho-hum day.
His camp sounds similar to last season — good game, blah game.
Hurts was asked the other day about whether the practice was a place he would take chances, to make throws he might not make in a game. And by taking chances, his performance might look spotty at times.
- “I think practice is definitely a place where you see if you can do it,” Hurts said.
- “You guys [media] aren’t here through game-plan practices, so you don’t watch those, but think about how many times that, OK, we don’t like the way something looks in practice. Or we don’t run it in the game.
- “If we like the way it looks, we probably will run it. If we have confidence in it, we run it.”
Hurts also talked about running the plays he is given by the coaches. He said the offense isn’t necessarily trying to defeat the defense.
“In training camp, we’re not scheming for our defense,” Hurts said. “We’re just running plays and we’re trying to get the ball to the most advantageous person to make a play.
“So, it’s not like we’re trying to beat our defense. We’re just trying to be efficient and put the ball where it needs to be.
“So, I think practice is definitely a place where you try to try stuff, figure it out and do things to create your own little pot of things and tools that you can do.”
THE BIG MAN IMPRESSIVE
Jordan Davis has received all kinds of praise since he was the Eagles’ top pick at No. 13. Coaches and players talk about the defensive tackle’s massive athletic skills and can-do attitude.
Davis’ biggest adjustment coming from Georgia to the NFL?
“Just learning the scheme,” Davis said. “In college, we read blocks a lot. Now, I just have to learn to go, go on forward, work on my hands. Really, everything is just going forward …
“The playbook is good, easy to pick up. We had an extensive playbook at Georgia so it’s easier to learn. But now it’s just about learning how to go forward.
“Everybody’s helping me out, the older guys, Fletch [defensive tackle Fletcher Cox], even [Jason] Kelce. Being able to contribute, that’s the thing.”
Davis said he’s picking up the Eagles’ different formations.
“We had a variety of fronts at Georgia,” Davis said. “I pretty much played it all. I’m learning it all.
“I’m trying to be cross-trained … I want to be interchangeable. No matter where ever they stick me, primarily nose [tackle] but I’m learning it all.”
Keeping up with the Cowboys is always good fun. The latest controversy involves former coach Jimmy Johnson and owner Jerry Jones, long-time combatants.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Jones agreed to put Johnson on the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor. This was a big step given the feud between the two. Johnson won two Super Bowls with Dallas in the 1990s.
Johnson still isn’t in the Ring of Honor, and Jones was asked about the delay.
“It’s BS for anybody to be making anything [of that],” Jones said. “I’ve said I’m going to put him in.
“Now, when I put him in, and the circumstances and what I do with that, there’s a lot more than Jimmy to think about here, and I’ve got a lot of other lives out here that have laid a lot on the line on the field that need to be in that Ring of Honor as well.
“And so how I do that, what I do it with, I get to make that decision, and it isn’t at the end of the day all tailored around whether Jimmy is sniveling or not.”
Johnson told journalist Dan LeBatard: “I had to look that word up in the dictionary. I don’t know that I’ve ever sniveled.”
“Sniveling.” Love it.
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni, on SportsRadio 94 WIP, talking about the imposing physiques of Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown: “If I looked like them, I would coach without my shirt on.”