By Michael Donovan
So, 34-year-old Darren Sproles, is this your last season in the NFL?
“We’re going to see,” Sproles told Eagles.com yesterday. “After we make these playoffs, come back and ask me.”
Sproles says he’s enjoyed himself more during offseason training preparing for a potential swan song. He carried the ball a career-high 94 times in 2016. With the addition of LeGarrette Blount, Sproles understands his role will be different this year.
“We got Blount now. We got (Wendell) Smallwood,” Sproles said. “My thing is, whatever my role is, it’s probably going to be more out-of-the-backfield-type stuff.”
The 5-6. 190-pound Sproles has defied the odds at every stage of his football career. He ranks eighth in NFL history in all-purpose yards. Since 2007, he has the most receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns among all NFL running backs. He has earned three consecutive Pro Bowl selections since arriving in Philadelphia via trade in 2014.
In April’s NFL draft, the Eagles selected a player whom many analysts consider to be the next Darren Sproles inDonnel Pumphrey. Like Sproles, Pumphrey doesn’t have the typical size for an NFL back at 5-9, 180 pounds. Sproles has had no problem taking the rookie under his wing.
“The main thing I tell him is really it’s the more you can do. You want to show them that you can catch punts, you can catch kickoffs, you can play receiver,” Sproles said. “It’s the more you can do. You’ll be in this league for a long time.”
As a junior in 2003, Sproles led the nation and set a Kansas State record with 1,986 yards rushing. Pumphrey just wrapped up a 2,133-yard senior campaign that was part of an NCAA-record 6,405 career rushing yards. The biggest adjustment going from college to the pros, Sproles says, is the lighter workload.
“He’s so used to getting the ball … that’s the only thing,” Sproles said. “He’ll get used to that.”