A crowd of reporters hovered in a different area of the locker room inside the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday. Toward the back, in the middle of the floor, stand portable, makeshift lockers for players on the practice squad. That was where you found every recording device interested in getting to know the newest Eagle. Once practiced wrapped up, in walked Terrell Watson.
The attention was brought on by an announcement from head coach Doug Pederson that a likely roster move could be in place involving Watson. Running back Ryan Mathews was placed on the Injured Reserve list Tuesday after suffering a herniated disc against the Giants in Week 16. With the open roster spot and just two healthy running backs available in Darren Sproles and Byron Marshall, Pederson said that adding another running back would be a "no-brainer." The Eagles promoted Watson from the practice squad on Friday.
The 6-1, 240-pound Watson originally joined the practice squad on December 20, giving him just a little over a week to learn the Eagles' offense. Despite the time crunch, Watson feels ready to jump in.
"I think I'm very comfortable in the offense," said Watson confidently.
Sunday will mark Watson's NFL debut. He was originally signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as a rookie free agent out of Azuza Pacific following the 2015 NFL Draft, and spent his rookie season on their practice squad. He followed former Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to Cleveland when Jackson was named its head coach. He started the season on the Browns' practice squad and had a stint on Denver's practice squad before arriving in Philadelphia.
"It's just God's plan I guess and I never want to question God's plan," Watson said. "I've learned a lot. It's just really cool that I learned so much and got different experiences from (Denver running back Justin) Forsett and now I get to be here with Sproles. I've watched Sproles since I was in high school and junior high, so it's just a really cool experience just to learn from everyone I've been around."
Watson's journey to even get to the NFL has been a remarkable one. The 23-year-old from Oxnard, California was left on the doorstep of his grandparents' house as a baby, just a few weeks after he was born. His birth mother, 15 years old at the time, was unable to care for him. Billy and Janice Watson took him in and became his legal guardians. They will be at Lincoln Financial Field to watch Watson in action.
That wasn't the only obstacle Watson overcame on his way to the pros. He had a reading disability that required him to take special education classes until high school.
At Azuza Pacific, he set school records with 5,756 rushing yards, surpassing the mark held previously by former Chiefs All-Pro running back Christian Okoye, and 78 rushing touchdowns. Watson finished with the top two single-season rushing yardage marks in school history, including a Division II-leading 2,153 in 2014.
Watson and Marshall will help share the workload with Sproles against the Cowboys.
Marshall was called up to the active roster from the practice squad for the Week 15 contest against the Ravens. In what was his NFL debut, Marshall recorded 22 rushing yards on nine attempts and two catches for 6 yards. He played exclusively on special teams in the win over the Giants.
"Getting my rhythm back more than anything. Get my legs underneath me and just get my rhythm back. It's been a while since preseason so it was able to knock the rust off," Marshall said the last two weeks.
Sunday's game may not have any playoff implications, but it will mean the world to players like Watson and Marshall.