A look back at some Eagles players when they first joined the NFL, compared to now.
Given the dexterity the Eagles have at the running back position, the running back-by-committee approach head coach Doug Pederson offered Monday afternoon might be the most practical one to utilize the backfield's versatile skill set.
There's shifty veteran Darren Sproles with the ability to zig-zag through tight seams in a defense, find holes, and flip them into explosive plays with his blinding speed. LeGarrette Blount, last year's rushing touchdown leader, not only can wear down opposing offensive lines but also bulldoze his way to first downs on third-and-short opportunities. And second-year back Wendell Smallwood, who displayed a great deal of aggressiveness, speed, and caginess as a ballcarrier during the preseason.
"It's going to be a great effort by all three guys each and every week. (We) want to get all of them, obviously, involved in the game plan," Pederson stated.
"If LeGarrette (Blount) has the hot hand, he continues to carry the ball. If it's Wendell, it's Wendell. I can't sit here and tell you exactly how many touches these guys are going to get but at the same time that when we put game plans together, we're very mindful of not only the run game, but also the pass game with these guys as well."
Blount figures to play a sizeable role in the Eagles' ground game. He lugs a brute runner's mentality that the Eagles didn't necessarily have last season. Blount is unsure how the running back-by-committee approach will shake out but he trusts that the Eagles kept a crowded running back room for a reason.
"I'm excited to play in general. Not really to prove to anybody anything. I've always played this game with a chip on my shoulder and I'm going to continue to have that chip on my shoulder. It's just things you just have to make sure you're ready for whenever your number is called on Sunday," Blount said. "I don't know what my workload is going to be. Nobody really knows what their workload is going to be."
Sproles and Smallwood are the two lone remaining backs from the last year's roster. The recollection of last season's two losses to the Redskins – this year's Week 1 matchup – hasn't dwindled away for Smallwood. The Eagles were held to just 94.5 rushing yards per game during both contests, almost 20 yards fewer than their average of 113.3 yards per game. The team was unable to come up with a rushing score in either game.
"We definitely haven't forgotten those losses that they gave us. Two of them last year and I think it's hungered a couple guys and it's motivated us tremendously," Smallwood said. "But we know they're bringing their A game and it's their season opener. We're on the road and we have to win. That's what we're coming out there to do."
It's yet to be seen which back will be featured the most in Sunday's matchup against Washington, but rest assured that Pederson plans to utilize his ductile backfield to its full advantage.