The Philadelphia Eagles signed running back Darren Sproles to a one-year contract extension on Friday, keeping the veteran with the team through the 2017 season.
Meanwhile, Sproles’ selection is his third-straight, with all three of his career appearances coming since joining the Eagles in 2014. Sproles rushed for 438 yards this season, his highest mark since joining the Eagles. He also caught 52 passes for 438 yards and moved into eighth place all time in NFL history in terms of career all-purpose yardage with 19,011 total yards.
Sproles is still doing it his way. In his 13th season, Sproles has gained 19,011 all-purpose yards in his magnificent career, eighth highest in NFL history and the most among active players. He’s the only player in NFL history to score 30 receiving touchdowns, 20 rushing touchdowns, and at least one punt return touchdown and one kickoff return touchdown.
Sproles has totaled 285 rushing yards on 59 attempts, good for an average of 4.8 yards per carry. Sproles has always been one of the most versatile players on the team. He gained 128 receiving yards and a touchdown in the win over Pittsburgh. He also has two punt returns of 40-or-more yards, and ranks third in the NFL in punt return average.
“The main thing I tell him is really it’s the more you can do. You want to show them that you can catch punts, you can catch kickoffs, you can play receiver,” Sproles said. “It’s the more you can do. You’ll be in this league for a long time.”
“I study Sproles, I study Devin Hester, guys like that,” Barner said. “Usually if you can make that first guy miss, you can go a long way. Watching Sproles, being here with Sproles, it’s very rare that that first guy is ever going to tackle Sproles. Very rare.”
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A dynamic and versatile player, Sproles is also atop the NFL with 16,207 all-purpose yards since 2007. He’s amassed 646 rushing yards, 775 receiving yards and 14 total touchdowns during his two seasons in Philadelphia and is the only player in the NFL to record 15 or more rushing touchdowns, 25 or more receiving touchdowns and five or more punt return touchdowns in his career.
“How to be a professional. How to carry myself. How to approach the game. How to approach film. How to approach meetings,” Barner said of what he’s learned from Sproles. “That dude has taught me a lot.”
Sproles’ injury provided an opportunity, however, for Barner, who spent the preseason with the Los Angeles Chargers and was released during the final roster cutdown. On Tuesday, Barner worked out for the cheap Eagles jerseys and was signed to a one-year deal later in the evening.
Barner is here to help fill the void left by Sproles in the punt return game. Last season, Barner averaged 30.8 yards per kickoff return featuring a long of 61 yards. He did return a pair of punts, taking one back for a 22-yard gain.
Bring Sproles in, spread the field, and present a defense with the headache of trying to match up with his unequaled quickness. Get the screen game rolling behind that big offensive line. Or give Sproles a handoff and see him hit the hole and get through it with a head of steam. Split Sproles out wide and see if any linebacker in the league can stay with him.