Pumping Up

Posted: May 24th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Pumping Up

To say Donnel Pumphrey had a disappointing rookie season would be a slight understatement. He might have come up big in May and June, but he was small in July and August. Downright tiny, you might even say. He came up way short of expectations. After going on injured reserve, all he could do was spend the season trying to get better, little by little.

It sounds like Pumphrey learned quite a bit. Marcus Hayes wrote an excellent piece on Pumphrey. This wasn’t your typical offseason “he’s in great shape” piece. Hayes got Pumphrey to admit that he wasn’t ready for the NFL and Duce Staley’s tough coaching.

“Last year, me and [Duce] weren’t as good as we are now,” Pumphrey said Tuesday after the Eagles’ first OTA session. “I was taking a lot of criticism from him. I needed to look myself in the mirror, and just learn from him.”

Pumphrey was a great college player. His size wasn’t an issue and he piled up the most yards in NCAA history. Pumphrey got to the NFL and things changed. He had Staley pushing him hard, which can be challenging for any RB. Pumphrey also had to adjust to being part of a RB group rather than a workhorse. Oh yeah, there was also the challenge of going against NFL defenders every day.

Pumphrey needed to get stronger mentally and emotionally. It sure sounds like going from college star to NFL scrub got his attention. Rather than blaming Staley or his teammates, Pumphrey acknowledged his issues and dealt with them.

Knowing his job is on the line, Pumphrey also got stronger physically.

Pumphrey visited teammate Darren Sproles in San Diego for cross-fit-style training sessions that left Pumphrey retching into garbage cans. He now weighs 186 pounds, about the same as his training-camp weight last year but now sculpted, with wider shoulders, broader chest. thicker thighs.

Pumphrey also had a man-to-man talk with Staley a few weeks ago. He came away a better man than he was this time last year.

Training with Sproles and talking to Staley is a good way to get better. Sproles has been in the league since 2005. He knows a thing or two about how an undersized player can have a successful career. Staley played for a decade and is now in his 8th year as a coach. He knows what it takes from the perspective of a player and a coach.

The biggest issue for Pumphrey is being small. He is legitimately doing something about that.

He visited Sproles in San Diego for five cross-fit-type training sessions. Sproles, who will turn 35 next month, is 5-6 and 190 pounds of bionic maniac. From him, Pumphrey learned what it takes for a little man to make it in a big man’s league.

“We’d be, like, lifting, and the trainers would give us a 10-minute break,” Pumphrey said. “And Darren would go over to the treadmill, and turn it up as fast as it would go, and sprint the entire rest time. It’s unreal. First day, I was yakkin’. And he’s still going, full reps.”

Pumphrey needs to have a good spring, but the real test for him will be August. He must play well in Training Camp and in the preseason if he’s got any chance to make this team and carve out a career for himself.


This isn’t a case of Corey Nelson vs Mychal Kendricks. You have to factor age and cost into the equation. Nelson is younger and cheaper, which is important for a player who will be the #3 LB on a team that plays two of them most of the time.

In terms of ability, Nelson has better cover skills. That is important to Jim Schwartz and the Eagles. While Kendricks was athletically gifted, he had poor instincts when it came to pass coverage. Nelson is a good athlete and shows a good feel for man coverage.

There is risk here. Kendricks is the more talented player and he’s got far more experience. Nelson is the better fit from an overall perspective so that’s why the Eagles made the move.

All the more reason to cut Kendricks. That’s a lot of cap space.

Will the Eagles use that to sign Brandon Graham to an extension? Will they re-sign Corey Graham? Will they add a backup MLB with Paul Worrilow now out?

They have options.


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