Though officially listed as a running back, Darren Sproles has shifted toward primarily a receiver role since joining the New Orleans Saints in 2011. In fact, over the last two seasons, he has 146 receptions (for 1,271 yards and nine touchdowns) to 101 rushing attempts (for 464 yards and three touchdowns). Sproles still lines up both in the backfield and split outside the formation, but he is much more likely to run a pass pattern than he is to take a handoff at this point in his career. As a result, Sproles' body has taken less of a physical toll than most eight-year veterans at his position.
When the Eagles acquired Sproles from the Saints for a fifth-round pick in March, Chip Kelly called him an "unbelievable offensive weapon," and the prevailing thought is that Sproles will be used in a variety of roles as a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
LeSean McCoy, the NFL's reigning rushing champion, gave an interview to Fox Sports last week and is excited at the prospect of teaming up with Sproles. McCoy knows that Sproles' presence only means good things for the productivity of the Eagles offense and for McCoy's general well-being.
"Signing Sproles helps me out as a running back," McCoy said. "I can go in a game even (fresher) because I'm getting less carries and less attempts. I had 366 touches (in 2013), which is a lot. I think having less attempts can help me be more productive and more deadly. Being fresh in the fourth quarter, things that you don't think matter really do make a big difference.
"Now defenses have another guy that they have to prepare for. They have to watch out for so many different things, and it's hard. They only get a week to prepare for us."
With his sights set on improving upon his record-setting 2013 season, McCoy's greatest confidence rests not in the Sproles' addition though, but rather in the man calling the offensive plays.
"(Kelly) really lets you be yourself," McCoy said. "The biggest thing I like about him is he's always trying to find ways to make us better, whether it's recovery, the training loads. He'll do whatever it takes to make the athlete better. That's what I love about him. He's always trying to make us better."
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