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Spadaro: Sharing the lead: Eagles' RB room has success together

D'Andre Swift
D'Andre Swift

In Week 1 it was Kenneth Gainwell taking the lead role at the running back position with 18 touches, 74 yards, and a solid performance in the Eagles' 25-20 victory at New England.

Only four days later, D'Andre Swift stepped forward and delivered an epic night with 31 touches, 181 yards from scrimmage, and a touchdown to lead Philadelphia in its 34-28 win over Minnesota.

Two games, two different backs pacing the attack and likely a sign of things to come.

"We like that all the guys in our room have unique skill sets and all of them can help our offense in a lot of ways," Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson said in the summer. "We are going to utilize those talents."

That's the plan. And that's been the execution. With Gainwell and Swift and Boston Scott and Rashaad Penny, the Eagles have four distinctly different backs that can all, they say, do the same things.

So why not stretch out every bit of that versatility and keep defenses off balance?

"You just have to be ready when it's your turn," said Swift after the Minnesota game, in which he rushed for a career-high 175 yards and the score on 28 carries after he had one carry and one reception at the Patriots. "We have a lot of great backs here, so some weeks you're going to get more touches than another week.

"We're all here to win and sometimes you just have to be patient and the football will find you."

The Eagles host the Minnesota Vikings in their home opener for the second year in a row in a prime-time showdown. Check out the images from the matchup between two of the NFC's division winners from 2022.

Philadelphia churned out 259 ground yards on Thursday night with Scott contributing 40 spinning yards on five carries and Penny chipping in with 9 yards on three carries. The individual stats don't mean a whole lot right now because the expectation is that all four of the backs will be significant contributors throughout the 17-game regular season.

This is a committee by design with all of the backs understanding their roles and starring in them.

"I think we make each other better," Swift said. "There's a lot of competition. We're rooting for each other and we also push each other. It's a fun thing."

Gainwell missed Thursday's game because of a rib injury and Swift was there to more than pick up the slack. The key to it all, though, is that when one man comes off the field, the next man remains just as productive. All of the backs are on board with the approach.

Miles Sanders was the workhorse in the backfield in 2022, earning Pro Bowl recognition. He's in Carolina now and the Eagles have diversified the room.

Everybody will get his this season.

"It's a long season and a lot of things are going to happen," Scott said. "You can only control what you can control and that is to be ready when it's your time. We know that no matter who is out there, we are going to have success. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves and in each other. So, you stay ready and then when you are in the game, 'Hey, do your job.'"

It sounds simple, but at a position where ego can rule, there aren't a lot of teams that can carry forth with this plan. The Eagles have the message out, and everyone has bought in: Do your job, be the best you can be in that role, and everything will work out just fine. In a running back room that offers a lot of options, that's the way to operate on a daily basis.

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Count Down to Kelly Away Game Watch Party

EVENT SOLD OUT - Join the countdown to the return of the Kelly Green jerseys! Leading into the game when the Eagles will wear the Kelly Green jerseys, come watch the Birds as they take on the NY Jets with your fellow fans at Lincoln Financial Field.

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