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Eagles remain confident in Smallwood, Adams

Eliot Shorr-Parks
October 10, 2018 - 7:58 am

Internally, the Eagles know they need to make a move at running back

At the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday, however, the message the team sent publicly was a clear one -- everything is just fine despite losing running back Jay Ajayi for the remainder of the season. 

"Well, Jay is a big part of what we've done. It's an injury that will impact us here until we get the guys back out there," offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. "[RB] Wendell [Smallwood], he's 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. [RB] Corey [Clement] 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."

Assuming running back Darren Sproles does not play this Thursday against the Giants, the Eagles will enter a must-win game with Clement, Smallwood and rookie running back Josh Adams. Clement was a full participant on Tursday, the team's only real practice of the week. It looks like he should be able to play vs. the Giants. 

Even if he does play, however, it is hard to imagine Clement will be fully recovered.

"We're just hoping to get Corey back to being Corey. He's been battling, and I know he's been working really hard these last couple weeks to get healthy. Made enough progress to be active last week, so a few more days I think he'll be feeling a little bit better," Groh said. "He's a versatile player. He's good. Really runs well between the tackles. He can be that physical style running back that we're talking about that [RB] Jay [Ajayi] is, plus he's an outstanding receiver out of the backfield. He gives us a lot of versatility back there."

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A less than 100% version of Clement means Smallwood and Adams should be getting plenty of touches in a game where the season is on the line. Depending on Smallwood and Adams in a Week 6 game to save the season is not exactly what the Eagles had in mind, but it is where they are. 

The good news for the Eagles is that Smallwood is coming off of a strong game against the Minnesota Vikings. Not only did he catch a crucial touchdown late in the game, but he also ran in the two-point conversion to help the Eagles almost complete their comeback. Smallwood finished the game with 73 yards on six touches. 

Smallwood's performance gave the Eagles reason to be optimistic going forward, but even on a day when the team was trying to be as positive as possible, there was no way to completely avoid the truth -- the loss of Ajayi is a big one.  

"We're going to miss Jay's [Ajayi] physicality for sure. I mean, to sit here and say we won't miss Jay I think isn't fair. Jay is an excellent running back," Groh said. "But we've gotten these guys a lot of experience. They've played in enough games to be able to go out there and play well and be able to run our system. We're confident in what they can do."

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at [email protected]!

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