PHILADELPHIA — When former Kansas State University football standout Darren Sproles walked briskly off the field holding his wrist after it appeared he injured his knee, the Philadelphia Eagles thought it was good news.
Bad news came Monday.
Sproles, an Olathe North High School product, tore his ACL and broke his forearm on the same play in Sunday’s win over the Giants. He’ll miss the rest of the season.
“It’s a devastating loss,” coach Doug Pederson said.
The versatile Sproles has nine returns for touchdowns, including seven on punts. The 34-year-old veteran went to three Pro Bowls, including last season when he had a career-high 94 carries.
“He’s a great man. He’s a great leader, well-liked on this team and in this locker room and in this community,” Pederson said. “He’s a lot of energy, and that’s hard to replace.
“And so guys are just going to have to rally and pick up that spot and move forward. But, it’s unfortunate. It is part of the game, and it’s unfortunate that an injury has to happen, and sometimes it happens to great people and great men. It’s just the unfortunate side of the business.”
Two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf) and starting linebacker Jordan Hicks (ankle) also were injured against New York. Pederson said both players are day to day. They joined a depleted secondary on the sideline. No. 1 cornerback Ronald Darby, starting safety Rodney McLeod, backup safety Corey Graham, and versatile defensive back Jaylen Watkins didn’t play against New York.
Despite all the injuries on defense, the Eagles held the Giants scoreless through three quarters before Eli Manning tossed three touchdown passes in a span of 5:21 in the fourth quarter.
“People stepped up,” defensive end Brandon Graham said. “That just lets you know it’s the ‘next man up’ mentality and I’m glad people were prepared when they got the opportunity.”
Rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas, making his first career start, intercepted a pass in the second quarter. He was inactive Week 1 when everyone was healthy.
“The whole team believes in everybody, even guys who are not playing like the inactive players or players on the practice squad, we believe in them all,” Douglas said. “And whenever our number is called, we’re just ready to play and that’s how we practice, too. When I was inactive, I practiced like I was going to start, knowing that I wasn’t going to play. Everybody here has that same mindset.”
Late in the first half, a goal-line stand sent the Eagles to the locker room ahead 7-0. Running back Orleans Darkwa was stuffed on fourth down from the 1. Second-year linebacker Joe Walker, a seventh-round pick who missed his rookie season with a knee injury, made the stop along with lineman Vinny Curry.
“It always goes back to practice,” cornerback Jalen Mills said. “Whether it’s the ones out there, or the twos, or the threes, guys are always competing. Guys are communicating. Guys are always playing fast, so regardless of whatever happens, when we have the next guy up, the guy is going to be ready.”