Ageless RB Sproles Returns To Eagles To… Return Footballs

Posted on July 23, 2019 - Last Updated on August 15, 2019

The Philadelphia Eagles will have another familiar face at training camp when they announced the re-signing of veteran running back and kick returner, Darren Sproles.

‘My heart is in Philly’

The 36-year-old Sproles will return for his 14th season in the NFL and his sixth season with the Eagles where he will bolster the team’s special teams.

“My heart is in Philly,” Sproles said on the team’s website. “That’s where I want to end my career. That team, the city is like a family. I really want to go out on top. That’s what I really want to do. I can’t wait to get back with the guys.”

The Eagles are listed as a heavy, 8-point home favorite in the season opener against Washington with an over/under of 46.5.

Sproles figures to have a hand in the Eagles’ scoring in the opener, but his return doesn’t really affect the Eagles 2020 Super Bowl odds.

Sproles’ role with the Eagles

Sproles’ value is as a kick returner. Though he appeared in just nine games over the past two seasons because of injuries, Sproles led the NFL in punt-return yards in 2014 and 2015 with the Eagles.

While with the New Orleans Saints in 2011, Sproles led the NFL in all-purpose yards when he was a backfield threat as a rusher and a receiver and returned punts and kicks.

He ranks sixth in NFL history with 19,520 yards.

The health of Darren Sproles

Though he has been limited over the past two seasons, Sproles enters training camp with a clean bill of health.

He also is another game-breaking threat for the dynamic Eagles’ offense and special teams that should light up the scoreboard this season. Only seven players in NFL history have four career punt return touchdowns and 8,300 career yards from scrimmage, and the Eagles now have two of them in newly re-acquired Desean Jackson and Sproles.

He also is one of a small group of players in NFL history to have 3,000 yards receiving and 3,000 yards rushing.

Sproles and the Eagles running game

Don’t look for Sproles to be much a rushing threat, though. Over the last two seasons he carried the ball just 44 times for 181 yards. He also added just 22 catches for 233 yards. ‘

Then again, don’t look for the Eagles’ running backs to add huge rushing numbers. Eagles’ running backs carried the ball just 349 times last season for 21.8 carries per game. The Eagles also have had just one player rush for 100 yards in the past two seasons, as well.

But what Sproles brings to the Eagles is versatility and depth. He will pick up a handful of carries behind running backs Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood, while working mostly as a receiver out of the backfield.

His main role, of course, will be returning kicks where he will be the top name on the depth chart.

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John Finger

John Finger has been a professional journalist for three decades covering technology, commercial real estate and professional sports. Notably, he spent two decades covering the Philadelphia Phillies and 76ers for NBC Sports in Philadelphia. He lives in Lancaster, Pa.

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