Posted on September 25, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Philadelphia Eagles picked up a big win on Sunday, edging out the division rival Giants. But the Eagles may have also suffered a terrible loss. Running back Darren Sproles appeared to be out for the season with a broken arm and a torn ACL. Sproles suffered both injuries on the same playing during Sunday’s win. The injury likely means the end of the season for Sproles, and possibly his career as well.
Sproles suffered the injuries on a play in the first half. He appeared to plant awkwardly and then took a hit from Giants safety Darian Thompson. Trainers examined his knee while he lay on the field, although Sproles was eventually able to walk off the field under his own power. However, he could also be seen holding his arm in obvious pain.
Sproles underwent surgery to address the broken arm on Monday. He will also require knee surgery to repair his ACL at a later date. The combination of injuries will likely force the Eagles to place Sproles on injured reserve, effectively ending his season.
“It’s a devastating loss, obviously, with the punt return and special-teams aspect of it,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Monday.
At age 34, one has to wonder if Sproles has played his last down in the NFL. He hinted last season that the 2017 season could be his last. But retiring after suffering a season-ending injury in Week 3 could be tough for him to swallow. He may be inclined to rehab and come back in 2018 for the chance to play one more season and go out on his own terms. For a 5’6” running back, Sproles has done some amazing things over the past 13 years.
As for the Eagles, they now have a vacancy in their backfield to fill. Early in the season, Sproles and his speed served as a nice complement to the power of starting running back LaGarrette Blount. Wendell Smallwood is likely to be forced into a more prominent role. Smallwood had seven carries during the first two weeks of the season. But had earned 12 carries against the Giants with Sproles unavailable. Undrafted rookie Corey Clement may also be asked to step up. Clement wasn’t used the first two weeks but ran the ball six times against the Giants. He also scored his first career touchdown on Sunday. Torrey Smith is expected to take over for Sproles as Philadelphia’s primary punt returner.
“It can be a blow,” said Pederson. “He’s a great man, he’s a great leader, well-liked obviously on this team and in this locker room and in this community. He’s a lot of energy, and that’s hard to replace.”
In Smallwood and Clement, the Eagles have a couple promising replacements for Sproles lined up. Pederson also says the Eagles will look outside the organization for a running back. However, the speed, elusiveness, and experience Sproles brought will be difficult to replace. It’s also a shame to see Sproles’ career potentially come to an end because of injury. Sproles has become one the easiest players in the NFL to root for. One can only hope he finds a way to get back on the field in 2018.