Eagles running back Boston Scott keeps his eyes on the sky, waiting for the football to tumble from it. Several teammates on the punt team are charging in his direction, but Scott stays patient and waits for the ball to land in his arms before hitting the gas and water-bugging his way up the field.
At first glance, he looks a lot like a former Eagles player who used to handle the job Scott is trying to win now, and that is as a punt returner for a team that sorely needs one. Scott is short, thick and quick, just as Darren Sproles was during Sproles’ five years in Philadelphia.
Thing is, Scott even reminds head coach Doug Pederson of Sproles – or at least, the role that Sproles used to fill on the team.
“He's a guy that can kind of fill a Darren Sproles (role),” said Pederson on Monday. “He's in that same body type and same quickness. We're working him in a couple of different situations as a runner, as a punt returner, and just kind of getting a feel for him because he wasn't a guy we initially brought onto our team early.
“Of course, there's other guys, but he's kind of been the one that, if you say you're going to try to replace Darren, which you really can't, he would be the guy that has kind of taken that role over right now.”
Scott joined the Eagles late last season, on Dec. 11 to be exact, after spending time on the practice squad of the New Orleans Saints, who initially drafted him in the sixth round last year out of Louisiana Tech.
He’s opened enough eyes that maybe the Eagles aren’t interested in Sproles returning.
Sproles, who has played in just nine games the past two seasons due to injuries, said on the Pro Football Doc Podcsat with Dr. David Chao, that “if the right team calls, then I go back.”
The Eagles said early in the offseason that they would love to have him back. Now, with Scott, maybe they feel they have found someone with an ability to fill Sproles’ shoes, someone who is just 23 like Scott compared to Sproles, who will turn 36 later this month.
“Man, that’s definitely an honor to be even considered for something like that, as much as D Sproles has done,” said Scott. “As much as he’s done in this organization and in his career is truly incredible.
“I’m just ready to contribute in any way that coach Pederson asks of me. I know it’s going to be a process and I’m not there, but I’m going to continue to work. I’m definitely going to continue to work. It’s definitely a process leading up to whatever role he wants me to serve, but to be compared to D Sproles is definitely an honor.”
Until this current round of spring practices, Scott may have seemed like an afterthought in a bid to make the 53-man roster. After Pederson’s assessment of his new running back, he is now in the forefront of the conversation.
Tick off the names of the running backs the Eagles will likely keep when it comes time to decide on the roster and there are several that are obvious; Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders are locks. Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood have Super Bowl rings from 2017. That’s four. Josh Adams looks like a possible IR candidate after reportedly having his shoulder basically reconstructed in the offseason.
Scott could be the fifth back if the Eagles keep five. Even if they go with four, there may be a job for Scott, especially if he can fulfill the duties performed by Sproles, which is a hybrid of punt returner, occasional runner and pass catcher out of the backfield. That would leave the Eagles deciding whether to keep Clement and Smallwood.
The situation will work itself out because there is still a long way to go before those decisions have to be made.
Scott, though just 5-6, 203 pounds, cannot be overlooked.
He said he talks with Sproles, who is 5-6, 190, regularly and worked out with him in California this offseason and has followed Sproles since he was at Kansas State.
“I was watching his highlights and keeping him up with him (then), because truly, he’s the guy who paved the way for a lot of guys that look like me,” said Scott. “I feel like he really changed the game as far as how guys like us are utilized. He’s given us a shot, so I’m thankful for that guy and everything he’s able to do up to this point.”
Scott hopes to be able to do some of those things, and do them this season.