Doug Pederson's interesting answer to replacing Jay Ajayi

Dave Zangaro
NBC Sports Philadelphia

It's an abbreviated week as the Eagles prepare to face the Giants in North Jersey on Thursday Night Football.
 
The biggest story this week is that the Eagles will have to play the rest of the season without Jay Ajayi. Wednesday morning's early press conference was the first time Doug Pederson has talked since that news broke.
 
Here are three takeaways from his chat with reporters:
 
Howie on the phones
 
Pederson said he has confidence in the running backs the Eagles have on the roster. Of course, he did. But the head coach also admitted the team might bring in an outsider.
 
"I'm sure that's a possibility," Pederson said. "Howie (Roseman) is going to continue to look and see what's out there, see what's available and see if there's somebody that we need to bring in. In the short-term, we're very confident in the guys we have and the guys have worked extremely hard and we're excited for their opportunity."
 
The Eagles acquired Ajayi for a fourth-round pick just before the trade deadline last year. In a situation where they now have to replace him, it would make sense for the team to try it again.
 
That doesn't mean they're going to break the bank for Le'Veon Bell or even LeSean McCoy, but Roseman is at least going to see if there's a player available who would make sense. At some point, the Eagles' coaching staff will be looped in to make sure that player fits.
 
I asked Pederson about that process. 
 
"If it gets close enough, we're going to spend some time, not a ton of time, looking at a player," he said. "Usually a veteran player, so usually there's a lot of film, a lot of history, a lot of things written or talked about with that player. We can cover that. Just seeing if that person or that player, at any position, is a fit to our team. Culture fit, athlete fit. In this case, if it's a runner, does he fit in the room? A lot of variables there. So Duce (Staley) and I will definitely be in that conversation."
 
The guys they have
 
When asked about how the Eagles plan to replace Ajayi, the first player Pederson mentioned was Darren Sproles, who he said is "close" to returning. Sproles played in the opener but has missed every game since with a hamstring injury and has already been ruled out for Thursday. The fact that Pederson mentioned him first is probably a hint about how much they plan on using Sproles when he returns.
 
The good news is that Pederson said Corey Clement is 100 percent after getting over that quad injury. Look for Clement and Smallwood to really split the workload against the Giants. Smallwood has earned some playing time. Josh Adams might be sprinkled in.
 
"We're very comfortable and confident with those three," Pederson said. "We've made it work so far this part of the season. We're going to continue to make it work."
 
Missing Ajayi
 
Pederson lauded Ajayi's toughness Wednesday. Ajayi came back in Sunday's game after tearing his ACL because the initial exam looked OK and Ajayi's reaction to the injury led them to believe it was minor.
 
"It's a credit to him, his toughness, his willingness to re-enter the football game," Pederson said.
 
Within the span of a few weeks, Ajayi suffered a fracture in his back and a torn ACL and played through both injuries. That's crazy toughness.
 
If that's it for his career in Philly, Ajayi played just 14 games in an Eagles uniform. But based on winning a Super Bowl and then playing through those injuries, he should be an instant legend in Philly.



































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