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Training Camp Position Preview: Running Back

Kenneth Gainwell

This is a deep and talented room that will look quite a bit different from the 2022 version and, in fact, from any running back groups the Eagles have had in recent seasons. Kenneth Gainwell is back for his third season after taking big steps forward down the stretch and in the postseason last year, Boston Scott returns for more in his do-everything role, and Trey Sermon is here after the team acquired him just prior to the start of the '22 regular season off of waivers from San Francisco. What's new? The Eagles signed burly, downhill running back Rashaad Penny in free agency and then swung a trade for Philadelphia native D'Andre Swift during Day 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft. Kennedy Brooks spent his rookie campaign on the team's practice squad and now looks to take the next step and earn a roster spot in a crowded, versatile running back room. – Dave Spadaro

Did You Know?

• Kenneth Gainwell rushed for 181 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and totaled 236 yards from scrimmage in the team's three 2022 postseason games, both team highs.

• Boston Scott had 54 carries for 217 yards and 3 TDs in 2022 regular season and added TD runs in playoff wins over the Giants and 49ers.

• Trey Sermon carried two times for 19 yards in the team's 2022 win over Jacksonville, his only touches during the season.

• Kennedy Brooks spent the first 11 weeks of the 2022 season on the Eagles' practice squad and was then released and signed to a futures contract in January, 2023.

New to the Nest

• D'Andre Swift – The Eagles have followed Swift's career closely ever since he was the No. 1 prep player in the state of Pennsylvania after accumulating 1,564 rushing yards and 34 total touchdowns for an undefeated St. Joe's Prep team his senior year. The former second-round pick out of Georgia is one of only three NFC running backs to compile at least 875 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. Two years ago, Swift posted 62 receptions on his way to surpassing 1,000 scrimmage yards for the season. That reception total would have been the most by an Eagles running back since LeSean McCoy's 78 in 2010. Swift has already made history by becoming the first Eagle to don the new jersey number 0.

• Rashaad Penny – Penny spent the first five seasons of his NFL career with the Seahawks, where he finished as the franchise's all-time leader in yards per carry (5.7). Over the past two years, Penny has led all NFL running backs with a 6.2 yards per carry average and in touchdown runs of 30-or-more yards with five. His best season came in 2021 when he gained 749 yards on the ground at an astounding 6.3 yards per carry, which led the league and set a single-season team record. He scored six touchdowns that year. He was on pace to set similar numbers in 2022 – second in NFL with 6.1 yards per carry – before suffering a season-ending injury. – Chris McPherson

What Does the Tape Show?

D'Andre Swift was lightning in a bottle during his high school days in Philadelphia at St. Joe's Prep, and that continued up through college in the NFL. He was such a fun study at Georgia because of how good he was in space. Once you got him to the second level, it was curtains for the defense. I remember, during the early stages of the pandemic, going back and watching film on Swift while quarantined in my basement.

Plays like that show up in the NFL as well. Whether it was on little draw plays or screens where the defensive line got sucked in and he was able to get up into space or maybe a quick-hitting trap run where he got up to the linebacker level in a flash, Swift is lethal in the open field. I can't wait to see how he's used here in Philadelphia.

With Rashaad Penny, his combination of size, burst, and vision made him an uber-productive player in his small stint as a starter in college. He turned his award-winning final year into a first-round call from the Seattle Seahawks, and while injuries have been an issue, he has been dynamite whenever on the field. He has traits that you can't coach, and they showed up in person as well as on tape. Here's my breakdown of Penny after watching him at the Senior Bowl in the 2018 offseason.

Kenneth Gainwell led the Eagles' running back room in rushing in every postseason game last year, and his versatility is one of his most valuable attributes. We saw that in his days at Memphis and we've seen it here in the NFL as well, even as a rookie back in 2021. – Fran Duffy

Key Stats

4.2 – I mentioned earlier how Penny's combination of size and speed made him so productive in college, and that has transitioned well to the NFL. Obviously the large sample size has not been there, but of running backs with at least 150 carries combined over the last three seasons (which isn't a super high bar), Penny has the highest yards after contact per attempt at 4.2, according to Pro Football Focus. Nick Chubb has 3.9. Derrick Henry has 3.6. Jonathan Taylor has 3.4. We're talking the elites of the elites, and Penny has been better at creating his own yardage than any of them on a per-touch basis.

5 – The Eagles did not have one first down on a running back screen play last year. Swift had five by himself last year in Detroit and is one of the leaders at the running back position in that category since entering the league in 2020. – Fran Duffy

What They Said

"It's exciting to see, just the overall vibe of the room, you can tell by the talent of everybody in that room that we're going to get better. We're going to get better and we're committed to being the best player we can be." – Boston Scott

"I feel like this is a great place for me to refresh and restart my career. I'm just excited to be here. Playing with a finalist MVP at QB (in Jalen Hurts), great running backs room, great weapons at receiver, and obviously, arguably the best O-Line – I'm excited to get to work." – Rashaad Penny

"It's like a dream come true and it's all come full circle for me." – D'Andre Swift

Check out the running backs on the Eagles' roster heading into Training Camp, presented by Independence Blue Cross. Players are listed in numerical order.

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