Wendell Smallwood looks to be starter for Eagles

LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 21: Wendell Smallwood
LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 21: Wendell Smallwood /

Former WVU football running back Wendell Smallwood is proving to be a nice pick up for the Philadelphia Eagles.

He was a fifth-round draft pick of the Eagles in the 2016 NFL Draft and he saw some brief playing time as a rookie last season. He provided much-needed depth at running back and made the most of his time on the field.

Now, it’s looking like Smallwood will see more snaps in 2017. In fact, he might actually be the starting running back for Philadelphia this season.

Wendell Smallwood and veteran LeGarrette Blount split time at first-team running back in the most recent preseason game against the Dolphins. Because he was a first-teamer, Smallwood only took four carries and he tallied 28 yards, averaging seven yards a carry.

Smallwood finds himself in this starting position after outworking other running backs in training camp. Blount has been in-and-out of camp for family reasons, which has given Smallwood a chance to show off what he’s been working on this offseason.

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According to Chris McPherson, Smallwood has improved on his receiving ability to make him more of a dual threat coming out of the backfield. He is already quick and sturdy carrying the ball, so adding this wrinkle will only help him stay on the field.

With the WVU football team, Smallwood caught a total of 68 passes in his three seasons. His most total receptions came in the 2014 season, his sophomore campaign, and he finished with 326 receiving yards that season.

Smallwood really broke out with the Mountaineers in his junior year, which is why he didn’t stay in Morgantown for his senior year. Smallwood rushed for nine touchdowns after only finding the end zone twice as a sophomore. He also netted a total of 1,519 rushing yards.

Last year with the Eagles, Smallwood saw action in 13 games and got his most carries in the first two games he ever appeared in for Philadelphia. Smallwood carried 13 times in both the Eagles’ win over Atlanta and the loss to Seattle. He is still looking for his first professional touchdown but finished his rookies season with 312 rushing yards on 77 attempts.

He impressed the coaching staff enough to get the extended looks he has received this summer. Things have fallen into place and Smallwood can make an impact right away for the Eagles.

He hit the ground running in training camp and has stayed out of trouble. He’s been in good graces with the coaching staff by continuing to work hard and do whatever has been asked of him.

Midway through training camp, CSNPhilly marked Wendell Smallwood as the first player “trending up” for the Eagles.

"“In full-contact drills, Smallwood ran with authority — hitting holes, breaking tackles and running away from pursuers,” the site said. “He was especially impressive in the goal-line scrimmage. Smallwood is performing the way an RB who is unsure of his status on the team should — like his roster spot depends on every carry he gets. While the second-year player has the advantage on rookies right now, Smallwood is smart enough to know he cannot have any setbacks with guys like Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement hot on his trail.”"

The site, 12up.com, recently said, “At this point, if Smallwood can stay healthy, it looks like it’s his job to lose.”

Wendell Smallwood’s jersey, if it isn’t already, is bound to be a popular find in Morgantown. He could be one of the most successful recently drafted Mountaineers in a crop that is expanding each year.

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The Eagles will be in a good position with the 5-foot-10, 208-pound bruiser on their side. The best is yet to come for Smallwood.