When Martell Mallett was on a plane back home to Arkansas, thinking that he had been released from the Eagles, he never would have imagined that he'd be scoring his first NFL touchdown for the team only a few weeks later.
But before the paperwork could go through on Mallett's release, the Eagles changed their mind and brought back the running back who was the Most Outstanding Rookie in the Canadian Football League last year, and Mallett made it worth their while on Friday night, rushing for 60 yards on 15 carries and scoring a three-yeard touchdown early in the fourth quarter that brought the Eagles to within two points.
"You know, everything happens for a reason," Mallett said. "I'm back here and I'm just seizing the opportunity."
With Mike Bell out with a minor hamstring injury, Eldra Buckley was elevated to the second-team running back job, leaving the 6-foot, 210-pound Mallett to get the lion's share of the third-team reps in the preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He ended up leading the team in both yards and rushes and showed to be a surprisingly effective runner inside.
On first-and-goal from the 4-yard line, less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, Mallett took the handoff from quarterback Mike Kafka up the middle of the line and plunged into the end zone.
"It was great," he said. "Coach got me in there early and the offensive line did a great job of blocking, the defense kept us on the field and I just went out there and tried to help the team get a score and win."
Mallett said that because he's been with the team all off-season, there wasn't too much of an adjustment to the speed of the game from the CFL. And while it's been a while since he's gotten so many live carries, the resilient runner said he's ready to get back after it Sunday morning when the team resumes its training camp at Lehigh.
"I think I'm going to be all right," Mallett said. "I've been banged up worse than this.
"I'm just glad I got the opportunity to go out there. The offensive line did a great job and I just went out there and ran the football."
And after Friday night, Mallett will surely get to run that football some more over the next few weeks.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 3:18 p.m., August 14