When Eagles need a big play, Sproles delivers
PHILADELPHIA (AP) The smallest guy on the field bailed out the Philadelphia Eagles again.
They're getting used to his heroics.
''I've never been around a guy that practices as consistently as hard as Darren does every single day,'' coach Chip Kelly said Monday. ''We are done telling him to slow down in walkthrough, because he's not going to slow down. He goes full speed.
''We always talk about, you sink to your level of training and what you see on Sundays from Darren is what we see every single day, whether it's a walkthrough or whether it's a practice. It's an amazing thing to watch. I wish more players would emulate it because it seems like a pretty good formula that's working.''
Sproles returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, and scored on a 1-yard run later in the period to become the third player in franchise history to do both in the same game.
He has six punt returns for touchdowns in his career, including three since joining the Eagles last year.
''It gave us our confidence back,'' right tackle Lane Johnson said.
Sproles is Philadelphia's No. 3 running back behind DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. But the 32-year-old veteran might be the team's MVP over the past two seasons. He had 716 yards rushing and receiving last year and scored six TDs rushing.
Kelly loves his versatility.
''There's so many different things he can do, and we probably still haven't utilized him to the role we can,'' Kelly said. ''(He has) ability to change a game as a returner, also as a running back. Didn't hesitate when we had the ball on the half-yard line, you give it to him. He's got a knack for finding his way through, and he's just such a weapon trying to come out of the backfield.''
Sproles avoids the spotlight the way he eludes tacklers. He was disappointed he dropped a pass that could've gone for a 78-yard TD.
''There are still things we have to work on,'' he said.
With Murray sidelined by a hamstring injury, Mathews finally got Philadelphia's run game going with 108 yards against a stout defense. The Eagles had just 70 yards on the ground in the first two games.
But they still have plenty of issues on offense. Sam Bradford was 14 of 28 for 118 yards and one TD, and the trio of rookie Nelson Agholor, Riley Cooper and Josh Huff have only 11 catches for 100 yards.
''I missed a few throws and I think we had a few drops,'' Bradford said. ''There were a couple of different things on a couple of different drives that set us back, but I don't think there was anything major.''
INJURY UPDATE: Linebacker Kiko Alonso is getting a second opinion on his sprained knee. Alonso missed last season following ACL surgery on the same knee and it's feared he could be out for the year again. ... Kicker Cody Parkey injured his groin, so the Eagles are auditioning new kickers.
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