Jump to content

Gainwell doing everything he can to stand out in RB competition


Recommended Posts

Gainwell doing everything he can to stand out in RB competition

Kenny Gainwell was looking forward to the running back competition and now that it's here, he's doing all he can to stand out

By Dave Zangaro  Published August 2, 2023


The first question lobbed at Nick Sirianni at the start of training camp was about running backs, and the Eagles’ head coach said he would rotate and mix in just about every back they had.

He wasn’t lying.

Through four practices, we’ve seen five different running backs take first-team reps and those same backs have also taken reps with the twos and the threes.

"Everybody has an opportunity to earn roles,” Sirianni said before the first practice of the summer, "and looking forward to watching that position group battle because there's a lot of good options there. They'll rotate throughout.”

In the spring, Kenny Gainwell said he was looking forward to the competition in the running back room in training camp. Now that he’s in the middle of it, he’s just trying whatever he can to stand out.

"Oh it’s been good,” Gainwell said. "We’ve been pushing each other. First day of pads, we pushed each other to make sure we finished runs, just continue to attack each other on everything with blocking and catching the ball and running hard. Just competing on every small things.”

While there’s a healthy competition among the Eagles’ backs, Gainwell characterized the running back room as "goofy” and said they’re all enjoying each other’s company. The funniest guy in the room, Gainwell said, is Boston Scott.

It seems like Gainwell, D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny are going to be the top three backs in this rotation as Scott and Trey Sermon fight for a roster spot.

After the first week of training camp, there was already a lot of buzz about Swift. The Eagles traded the former second-round pick from Detroit during the draft and he flashed early in those non-padded practices, just as you’d expect.

One of the biggest storylines early in camp has been the amount of passes Swift has been catching out of the backfield. That’s undeniable and notable, considering Swift has 156 receptions in his three-year career.

"I’m pretty sure that’s why they brought D’Andre in,” Gainwell said. "So we can get those catches going up.”

Just don’t forget about Gainwell.

Because of the three backs we really think are competing for playing time in 2023, he’s the only one who was here last season. And he’s the guy the Eagles trusted enough to play over Pro Bowler Miles Sanders in the playoffs last year.

After averaging just 24 scrimmage yards per game in the regular season in 2022, Gainwell averaged 78.7 in the playoffs and had more snaps than Sanders in the playoffs and even in the Super Bowl.

"That showed me that I been had that in me and they believed in me and gave me the opportunity so I just took advantage of it,” Gainwell said. "It’s like when I was in college. I took advantage of the opportunity they gave me then. Just going to continue to take advantage of every opportunity they give me.”

The Eagles used a fifth-round pick on Gainwell out of Memphis in 2021 and he’s been a pretty efficient running back in a limited role in his first two seasons. He’s averaged 4.4 yards per carry, has 56 catches (7.5 yards per catch) and has gotten into the end zone a total of 10 times. He’s been a nice player but it’s fair to wonder how those stats project if he ends up in a bigger role.

While Swift might appear to be the front-runner to be on the field in clear passing situations, Gainwell has shown an ability to catch the ball too. He was the guy in the Eagles’ two-minute drill even when Sanders was here. And a key component for being out on the field on third downs is the ability to pass protect.

When asked for one area he is trying to improve most this summer, Gainwell mentioned his blocking without hesitation.

"You want to be more firm, you want to be more smooth, knowing the points from (Jason) Kelce, knowing everything I gotta do from Lane (Johnson) to Jordan (Mailata),” he said. "Just want to be more smooth on pass protection.”

How do you get better at pass protection?

After spending two seasons with the Eagles, Gainwell has a pretty good idea.

"Listening to Kelce,” he said. "We got a motto right now in our running back room: Listen to the damn center. So that’s all we gotta do.”


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...