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May 26, 2019

Former (and brief) featured back Josh Adams has uphill climb to make Eagles roster

After a wild rookie year — and an offseason that has seen the Birds beef up at his position — the Bucks county native finds himself on the bubble

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Carroll - Eagles Public Practice Josh Adams Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Josh Adams walks onto the field at the Eagles public practice on August 11 at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Eagles leading rusher is returning for the 2019 season. Or at least he's trying to.

No, it's not Jay Ajayi, who went unsigned this offseason and will likely have a new team to play for. And no, it's not Super Bowl hero Corey Clement or even Wendell Smallwood. And no, as far as we know, Darren Sproles is still retired.

Josh Adams — the former Central Bucks running back — led Philly with 511 yards on the ground last year as the position was a revolving door with very little consistency.

The Birds have addressed the position and then some over the past few months, bringing in Jordan Howard from the Bears and drafting Miles Sanders from Penn State. 

Adams may have gone from leading rusher to being on the outside looking in. All of this after making the team as an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame last summer.

"I think you always have to be ready and prepared and make sure that, when your number is called, you do whatever is needed of you," Adams said shortly after wrapping up practice in the Eagles' first OTA practice of the year Tuesday. "And that's great to have, just knowing guys are ready to step in and compete for the betterment of the team. We are all prepared to do that."

Adams didn't reach the field last season until Week 3, when he had six carries for 30 yards. He played a lot of special teams and little else before injuries once again gave him a chance. From Week 9 through Week 14, Adams received double digit carries before becoming a non-factor during the Eagles' playoff run.

He had relatively impressive numbers, leading all Eagles running backs in yards per carry (4.3), rushing attempts (120) and touchdowns (tied, with three). 

From barely being on the roster to featured back and relegated to the bench again, the now 22-year-old had quite the journey in NFL Year 1. His most impressive feat may lie ahead: making the 53-man roster.

According to our Eagles beat writer Jimmy Kempski, Adams slots in fifth among the seven RBs currently on the roster. It is doubtful the team will carry five.

Adams' main competition is likely Wendell Smallwood, as the top three RBs on the 53-man are more or less secured (in Howard, Sanders and Clement). If Adams is unable to beat out Smallwood — or Boston Scott or Donnell Pumphrey — he is eligible for a spot on the practice squad if he passes through waivers.

Ever the optimist, Adams is confident and grateful for the competition he will have this summer in Duce Staley's running backs room.

"I'm always hungry and it's always great to get new competition and to get guys just as hungry as you," Adams said. "When you have the best going up against each other it makes you want to be better. 

"As a group and as a unit you want to push for those other guys while competing against them. We are a family. We go through the same things, we are all out there in the heat grinding and getting reps. When you have new guys, you want them at their best so you can compete with them at their best, which makes you better."

Adams isn't only looking to better himself on the football field. The former member of the Irish is 14 credits away from getting his degree after spending some of his time off in the classroom.

"Going back to school, football, we love it. It's everything we love to do and it's easier, just like riding a bike," Adams said when asked to compare studying in class to studying a playbook. "Schoolwork is a different animal. 

"It's personal, it means a lot to me, not just for me but for those people who I represent. The same reason I play football is the reason I am going out there to get that degree."

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