PHILADELPHIA — In the Eagles’ first game, D’Andre Swift was granted one carry, ran three yards and tried not to scratch his head.
In the next game, D’Andre Swift ran 28 times, covered 175 yards, scored a touchdown and was elected as the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week.
One is the outlier. By Monday night in Tampa, the mystery of which performance that is should begin to clear.
While Nick Sirianni has steadfastly refused to appoint a No. 1 running back, preferring to keep the auditioning microphone open, he did give a hint Thursday that momentum can be a valuable tiebreaker. So in a 7:15 game against the Buccaneers, it figures he will ride it until shown it’s not working.
“The question keeps coming up about who’s the starter and all this,” Sirianni said Thursday at the NovaCare Complex. “Well, we’re going to ride the hot hand. Do I think it’s sustainable? I mean, shoot, his body is ready to go, and I don’t ever want to put an expectation on anybody. But if he has the hot hand Monday night, we’ll keep rolling with him.”
Swift wasn’t necessarily the heir apparent to departed Miles Sanders when the Eagles acquired him from Detroit in a shuffle of mid-round draft choices. But he was believed, at least, to have the background to win most of the newly available touches. Kenny Gainwell, who missed the 34-28 Week 2 triumph over Minnesota with a rib injury, was also considered high on that list, along with Rashaad Penny and Boston Scott. Scott got five carries against the Vikings, Penny three.
While Sirianni might have preferred keeping Bucs coach Todd Bowles guessing about his running-back pitch counts, the Player of the Week announcement made it tough to keep too many secrets.
“We feel pretty good about the work (Swift) puts in to make sure his body is right,” Sirianni said. “It’s hard not to run the ball with that. Give it to him 35 times. It’s hard not to do that.”
• • •
In a recent radio interview, Jason Kelce might have seemed concerned about the “temperature” of the Eagles. So, he was asked to clarify.
“I said it on the radio and I said it before: In this business, you don’t want to get comfortable,” he said. “I think it’s good when you come here with a healthy level of respect for the fact that you have to prepare and try to get better and have a very attentive mindset in meetings or on the practice field. Where we are at right now, we have played some close games but we haven’t played our best football. But we’ve won those games.
“So in my opinion, it’s the best place to be, where we don’t think we’re the best in the world, we don’t think we’re absolutely terrible. But I think we are in a healthy mindset.”
• • •
After A.J. Brown was caught on video in some kind of sideline discussion with Jalen Hurts about the offense during the Minnesota game, Sirianni has been careful to stress that there is no stress between Brown and DeVonta Smith in the receivers’ room.
“I love to watch their growth as teammates and friends,” the coach said, responding to a question. “I think they both respect the heck out of each other, and they are helping each other get better. That’s what you want, that you have two guys who have done it at a very high level helping each other out and getting better.”
With the Eagles running successfully enough for Smith’s Player of the Week appointment, Smith was targeted just five times against Minnesota. Brown was a six-time target.
“I think those guys complement each other really well in terms of their games, but there is a reason those guys were voted captain,” offensive coordinator Brian Johnson said. “They’re great leaders. They’re very passionate about their craft and trying to be the best they can possibly be.
“So any time you have players that kind of set that stage in terms of their leadership, in terms of their work ethic and how they prepare themselves to get ready to go play each and every week and play at high level each and every week, it is a testament to them.”
Johnson, who recommends the play calls, is not going to adjust his rhythm to accommodate egos.
“I think ultimately Job No. 1 is to do what you have to do to win the football game,” he said. “I think one of the luxuries we have is we have a bunch of great players. The reality of that is when you do have great players, it allows us to really attack what the defense is not focusing on.”
• • •
James Bradberry, who missed the Minnesota game with a concussion, practiced Thursday, though in a limited capacity. Gainwell remained limited with his rib issue.
Also limited were Smith (hamstring/thigh), Reed Blankenship (ribs), Fletcher Cox (ribs), Zach Cunningham (ribs), Jordan Davis (ankle), Jack Stoll (ankle) and Josh Sweat (toe).
Scott (concussion), Terrell Edmunds (illness) and Quez Watkins (hamstring) did not practice.
Source: Berkshire mont