Road to 53: Wendell Smallwood’s two way ability could be his key to the final roster
11 August 2018 Eagles News
One of the toughest battles on the offensive side of the ball lies at running back. With a bunch of different options, the players whom are going to make the cut are going to be the more diverse ones. With that being said, one of the most diverse running backs on the roster is Wendell Smallwood and that’s why he will make the team.
Coming into his third season, Smallwood has shown the team flashes of his true potential. During his rookie season, Smallwood rushed 77 times for 312 yards and one touchdown. Last year, Smallwood missed most of the year with a few different injuries. Through his struggles, he rushed just 47 times for 174 yards and one touchdown.
This season, he’ll be hungry to get on the field and stay on the field. For Smallwood, his role on the team might just be more than on offense. Today, head coach Doug Pederson spoke about Smallwood and his role, saying he’s a key special teams player and he’s developing really well on offense.
Doug Pederson says Wendell Smallwood is a big part of special teams and has flashed on offense. “He’s done a really nice job in camp” #Eagles
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) August 11, 2018
Smallwood is finally healthy and is showing the team he’s capable of running the ball. He can be productive on offense, displaying that last Thursday versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. He displayed quick and decisive running and the ability to receive out of the backfield. He did have a fumble, but it’s a game he can build upon. But more than that, he’s a key special teams player. Losing the likes of Trey Burton, Kenjon Barber and others, a player like Smallwood seems to be able to fill that void. Being able to be a two way player could be Smallwood’s key to making the roster.
In a battle with Corey Clement, Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, Donnel Pumphrey, Josh Adams, and Matt Jones, Smallwood knows he has to show the Eagles more than just what he can do offensively. The Eagles are going to go with guys who can contribute more to the team. What’s the point of keeping a fourth string running back who can’t play special teams?
For Smallwood, it’s about finding a niche. This training camp, he might just have found that. Realistically, the are going to keep four or five of those running backs, and with Clement, Ajayi and Sproles locked, its leaves four running backs for two spots.
In my opinion, Smallwood has the upper hand on all of them, giving him a great shot of being on the final 53-man roster. He’s a well rounded player who does what the team needs him to do. Whether it’s special teams, running, receiving and blocking, Smallwood is comfortable doing it and familiar with it. He’s setting himself up to be on the final roster come September.
Photo Credit: Bill Streicher USA Today