Eagles' Darren Sproles leaning toward return, not retirement

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Darren Sproles returned to the Eagles on Wednesday. No, the running back hasn’t recovered from his injuries, but he was back on the practice field with his teammates for the first time since he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and fractured his forearm.

Sproles, who has been rehabbing near his home in San Diego since suffering season-ending injuries against the New York Giants on Sept. 24, was at Angels Stadium as the Eagles continued preparations for Sunday’s game against the Rams.

After practice, Sproles told The Inquirer and Daily News that he hasn’t yet decided if this season will be his last in the NFL, but that he was leaning toward a return.

“I’m going to wait until the offseason and see how I feel,” he said.

He struck a similar tone in a clip for virtuallinc.com, an Eagles-affiliated Web series that chronicles life off the field for players.

“I don’t have to play next year, but I’m leaning towards coming back,” Sproles said. “I can’t end like this.”

Sproles, who will turn 35 in June, isn’t under contract for 2018. Before his injuries, he was averaging 4.1 yards per carry, 10.4 yards per reception, and 10 yards on just one punt return. The Eagles brought Kenjon Barner back primarly to handle Sproles’ return role. He is averaging 11.1 yards on 18 returns.

The Eagles have yet to find a replacement as consistent at catching the ball out of the backfield or blocking on third down, though. Wendell Smallwood was given first crack, but he has been inactive for the last three games. Rookie Corey Clement has handled most of Sproles’ third-down duties since.

Sproles mostly watched practice Wednesday, but he helped running backs coach Duce Staley by manning a tackling dummy during individual drills. He said that he has enjoyed being home with his wife, Michel, and daughters, Devyn and Rhyan, but that he planned on rejoining the Eagles back in Philadelphia on Christmas when they host the Raiders.