Eagles adjust to life without Jay Ajayi

The running back suffered a torn ACL and was placed on injured reserve.

Ed Benkin
October 09, 2018 - 6:24 pm
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi (26) tries to get past Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul (90) in the first half at Raymond James Stadium on Sept. 16, 2018.

© Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The last thing the Eagles needed was a major injury to one of their top offensive weapons.  

The struggling Eagles will now move forward without Jay Ajayi. The running back suffered a torn ACL and was placed on injured reserve. 

After two weeks of throwing the football over double the amount of times as handing it off, many fans were hoping Ajayi would get a heavier workload in the coming weeks. Instead, he has been reduced to the role of a spectator, and offensive coordinator Mike Groh would not downplay the significance of the loss of Ajayi.

"Jay is a big part of what we've done," said Groh. "We're going to miss Jay's physicality for sure. I mean, to sit here and say we won't miss Jay I think isn't fair. Jay is an excellent running back." 

Ajayi was already undergoing a battle with a fracture in his back, but a torn ACL has finally finished the bruising back's season, which means the Eagles will be counting on a running back by committee approach more than ever. 

Running Back Josh Adams was on the practice squad at the start of the season, but Adams may now be called upon to be a key contributor as he works with Corey Clement, Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood. Adams believes everybody in the backfield will be ready to contribute.  

"It gives everybody an opportunity to step up," Adams said. "Anytime one of your teammates goes down, you have to be there for them. You have to be there and pick the pace up. You play for him and play for the guys out there and kind of help bring the team up. I think we all have a great opportunity ahead of us."

That opportunity may not include all of the other running backs. Sproles missed practice on Tuesday, and it looks more and more likely that he will miss his fifth straight game with a hamstring injury. 

Clement returned last week after missing a game with a quad injury, but it appears the Glassboro native is not 100 percent yet. 

Quarterback Carson Wentz believes the Eagles will have enough talent in the backfield to replace Ajayi, even though his thoughts remain with his injured teammate.

"I told him I was here for him and praying for him," said Wentz. "Without him, I know they're big shoes to fill. I feel we've got the guys who can really step up and are ready for that role."

Ajayi injured his other knee earlier in his career, and there are some questions regarding his ability to return to full strength. Wentz can sympathize with Ajayi after making his own return from a serious knee injury. 

The Eagles insist there is still a family atmosphere in the locker room despite the team's recent struggles, which is why Wentz assured Ajayi that he has his support in his long road back.

"It's tough," Wentz added. "More than anything, I feel for him. He's been battling with his back this year and just little things here and there. Then, this happened. I feel terrible for him. I know what it's like. Obviously, he's been there, too."