2. Running Back: D’Andre Swift, Kenneth Gainwell, Rashaad Penny
The running back competition is probably my favorite among all of them. The fact that there’s not just one “winner” makes it so intriguing. We’re not likely to get a single workhorse out of this group, but the division of labor can go so many different ways depending on how these guys perform.
Miles Sanders dominated the backfield work last year, but he still played just 57% of the team’s offensives snaps. Still, that’s a big void to fill, especially when you factor in his career-high 279 touches.
The Eagles made a clear commitment to continuing to run the football at an elite level by adding both D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny this offseason, and fans know full well that you can’t count out Kenny Gainwell.
Swift hasn’t lived up to the hype as an early second-round pick, but Lions fans were constantly frustrated with how little the coaching staff was using him. He averaged a career best 5.5 yards per carry in 2022, and it’s going to be very interesting to see if a change in scenery is all he needed to fully reach his potential and break out. He’s the best bet to be a true Sanders replacement as the RB1, especially after catching 40-plus passes in each of his first three seasons.
Gainwell’s impact as a rookie came as a bit of a surprise (but not a major surprise if you followed the offseason love he was getting), and he’s now turned in two solid seasons as a rotational piece in the Eagles backfield. He played about the same role in 2021 (29% snap share) as in 2022 (28%) though, and adding both Swift and Penny seems like a strong sign that the Eagles’ coaching staff doesn’t want that role to expand too much. Gainwell could force their hand by showing continued development this fall, however.
Penny is the biggest question mark. A first-round pick in an era where we don’t see many running backs go top-32 anymore, his flashes of talent have been tantalizing over his five NFL seasons. But an inability to stay healthy has put a massive damper on things.
His broken fibula seems to be an issue of the past after he took part in OTAs in June, so a healthy (for now) Penny will get a chance to show just how health he is at camp. He’s really seemed to be on the path to finally breaking out over the last couple years averaging a ridiculous 6.3 yards per carry (highest in the NFL) in 2021 then 6.1 in his five games in 2022, and if he’s back to full strength then he could be a total x-factor and force a pretty even split, or even take over RB1 duties in this backfield.