They looked like a running back tandem for the Eagles’ future, a thunder-and-lightning combination that would leave defenses worn down from the punishment Jordan Howard was capable of delivering between the tackles and the aerobic exercise required to chase down Miles Sanders on the edge.
The two were on the field together in Buffalo last year when Howard had a key block in springing Sanders on a 65-yard touchdown run.
The Eagles ran the ball 41 times in that game, with Howard running 23 times for 93 yards to Sanders’ three times for 74 yards.
The thunder-and-lightning storm passed when the Eagles let Howard leave for Miami in free agency, but Howard the Dolphins released him, and the Eagles signed him to the practice squad. He was one of the four protected practice squad players for Monday night’s game against the visiting Seattle Seahawks, along with defensive tackle T.Y. McGill, defensive end Joe Ostman, and tight end Cale Wilson.
The Eagles also activated defensive lineman Vinny Curry and running back Corey Clement from the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Clement was on that list last week and missed Sunday’s loss in Cleveland. His place was taken by practice squad call-up Elijah Holyfield, prompting some excitement among the fan base that Holyfield, at 5-10, 215, could see some offensive snaps and show the kind of some thunder the 6-0, 225-pound Howard can bring.
It didn’t happen. Holyfield saw just five snaps, all on special teams.
With Clement back, there may not be a role for Howard on Monday, except Boston Scott has been Eagles’ practice injury report on Thursday and Friday, listed as limited with an abdomen injury.
So, maybe Howard gets the call.
“I’m happy he’s back,” said Eagles RB Miles Sanders on Friday. “We could definitely use him and it’s going to make our running back room stronger and more complete, and I’m excited. I hope he does get activated for us Monday night.”
Sanders credited Howard with helping him in his rookie season last year when Sanders had 818 yards rushing, 509 yards receiving, and six total touchdowns.
“I love seeing guys that I started this with last year,” said Sanders. “He was there the whole year helping me out getting me better.”
Asked what Howard brings to the offense that may be missing at the moment, Sanders said: “That real physical downhill running and pass pro. I was getting tips and advice from him last year as far as pass pro and being disciplined on my inside zones and outside zones. He got me right with that.”
Why Howard hasn’t been able to make right with the Eagles last year and the Dolphins this year after three successful seasons with the Chicago Bears is a bit of a mystery.
He had a team-high seven touchdowns in Philadelphia last year, with six rushing, and four rushing scores with Miami this year. For his career, Howard has 36 career TDs, 34 on the ground.
“I know it didn't work out for him per se in Miami, but not going to focus on that as much as how he can come in and learn our system and be familiar with what we're trying to do,” said head coach Doug Pederson last week. “I mean, he's obviously a talented player who has helped us win some games here, and we're excited to get him back.
"It adds depth, adds a little value. A veteran player obviously in that room. We'll see next week and see how he can just continue to help us. But yeah, we're excited to get him back.”
The Eagles’ offense could use some thunder, so maybe, just maybe, it will be Howard who is called upon to deliver some.
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