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Running Back A Compelling Battle To Watch Thursday Night


With the preseason coming to a close, one of the most - if not the most - compelling position battles to keep an eye on in the preseason finale will be at running back.

For certain, the Eagles will keep at least four, but will they bring five backs onto the final 53-man roster? Of the six current backs, LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles are absolute definites. Wendell Smallwood serves as the more-than-likely candidate to fill in as a backup. It's the trio of Donnel Pumphrey, Corey Clement, and Byron Marshall who will be vying for spots on the roster Thursday night.

"Everyone wants to go hard. This is the last time you'll be on film. I know 31 other teams are going to be watching us so everyone just wants to leave it on the field," Smallwood said after Tuesday's practice. "Let it go and show what you've been working for all camp. This is kind of your last shot if you're one of those guys that's kind of on the edge."

Pumphrey, the Eagles' fourth-round pick, had a bit of a bumpy start to the preseason after looking impressive early in Training Camp. A hamstring injury midway through Training Camp kept him out of a handful of practices, but Pumphrey seems to have turned the corner after last Thursday, flashing that he can be a dual threat catching and running the football.

"It was real big, just for the fact that I was able to get a couple drives in and kind of get my feet wet," Pumphrey said on his performance against the Dolphins. "It was different the first two games. I would get a drive then come out and I wasn't really able to stay in there, but this time I felt really comfortable. I was able to read certain blocks so going into this fourth game I just want to put it all out there and do everything that I can in order to make this team."

Corey Clement, one of the undrafted rookies who has a legitimate shot at making the roster, has arguably exceeded expectations thus far. He's led the team in rushing yards all three preseason games and has recorded rushing touchdowns in the last two outings. His production level will make it a tough decision for the coaching staff.

"Coach (Doug) Pederson addressed it in the first meeting this morning. He said he knows what we're feeling right now. He said he's been in our position of getting cut and restarting, getting cut again. It's the nature of the business and to be honest you have to be able to accept the fact of that part," Clement said.

"You may get cut and it's not the end of the road if you do. Some other team is looking out and you might get picked up by them. I'm not thinking that way. I love the Eagles' staff, the organization. I would love to be a part of it, but ultimately it comes down to their decision and hopefully I can make it hard on them to not cut me."

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