Two days shy of three months since last playing in a game, running back Darren Sproles stepped back on the football field on Monday night, his hamstring injury healed, and the anticipation he felt was palpable. He was, he admitted after gaining 22 yards and a touchdown on four carries and adding 19 yards on three punt returns, as excited as he's been in a long, long time about suiting up.
"It felt great. Really fun to be out there with the guys," Sproles said. "I missed it a lot. I couldn't contribute to the team and that was the worst part of it all."
Sproles hadn't played since gaining 10 yards on five carries, adding 22 yards on four receptions, and picking up 29 yards on three punt returns in the September 6 opening-night win against Atlanta. He suffered a hamstring injury in the week of practice after that victory and needed every bit of the nearly three months that passed to return to the Eagles' offense and special teams.
He made the most of his touches on Monday night.
The big one was a run left behind center Jason Kelce's block that capped a three-play, 40-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run. It was Sproles' first touchdown since a December 22, 2016 win over the Giants at Lincoln Financial Field.
"I wasn't going down," he said. "That was my mindset. I had to get in there."
Sproles received a huge ovation from the Lincoln Financial Field crowd when he lined up for a punt return and he looked like he was in midseason form with his quick feet, change of direction, power, and burst. He was a welcomed asset who inspired his teammates with his presence.
"It was cool to be out there with him," rookie running back Josh Adams said. "The first game, I wasn't active, so I just watched him from the sidelines. Being out there with him tonight was special for me. When I first got into football, he was one of those players I watched a lot. It was exciting to be able to compete with somebody like that. He's one of the best and he continues to work each and every day. It's amazing that he can still do the things that he does. He has perfected his craft."
The key for Sproles will be how he recovers from Monday night's workload and comes back on Sunday in Dallas. The Eagles can use every one of the weapons at their disposal against the NFC East-leading Cowboys.
"It's good to be out there in big games," Sproles said. "I just want to do what I can to help this team win games. It felt great being out there and contributing tonight."
Check out the best photos from the Eagles' Monday-night matchup against the Washington Redskins.