The Philadelphia Eagles’ group of skilled position players will look a whole lot different this season.
The Eagles released veteran running back Ryan Mathews on Tuesday, the same day he was medically cleared to practice. Mathews had missed all of training camp and preseason to date while recovering from a neck injury that cut his 2016 season short in Week 16.
“First and foremost, we are glad that Ryan is healthy and has been cleared to return to football activities,” the Eagles said in a statement, “but given the current state of our running back position, we feel like it is best for both sides to go in a different direction. We wish him all the best as he continues his career.”
Philly bolstered its backfield this offseason by when LeGarrette Blount signed with the club instead of re-upping with the New England Patriots. With Mathews’ release, Blount now is slated to be the Eagles’ workhorse runner ahead of 34-year-old scat back Darren Sproles, second-year back Wendell Smallwood and rookie Donnel Pumphrey.
Mathews served in that role last season after the departure of DeMarco Murray, leading the team in rushing attempts (155), yards (661) and touchdowns (eight). The former San Diego Charger amassed 1,200 rushing yards during his two seasons in Philly.
Now, Blount gets the chance to follow up on a career campaign with the Patriots in which he rushed for 1,161 yards and scored an NFL-best 18 rushing touchdowns. The Eagles tallied just 16 rushing TDs as a team in 2016 but boast an exciting offense on paper led by second-year quarterback Carson Wentz and newly acquired wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Thumbnail photo via James Lang/USA TODAY Sports Images