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Sermon's plan to beat the odds in Eagles' crowded running back race


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Sermon's plan to beat the odds in Eagles' crowded running back race

By Reuben Frank, Eagles Insider  Published August 9, 2023


Trey Sermon has gotten two carries in the last 619 days.

He ran 10 times for 32 yards on Nov. 28, 2021, in the 49ers’ win over the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

A week later he suffered an ankle injury while covering a punt against the Vikings in Santa Clara, and he never played another snap for the Niners.

He was released after training camp last year and claimed by the Eagles, but the sum total of his 2022 season was two carries in another game against the Jaguars – an Eagles win at the Linc in Week 4.

So the last 30 times his teams played, he got eight snaps and two carries (for 19 yards).

"No doubt (last year) was frustrating, but I knew the situation coming in,” Sermon said. "I just knew I had to keep grinding and continue to work hard every single day and whenever the opportunity presented itself I knew I'd be ready. 

"I didn't get the opportunity last year besides the Jacksonville game but it didn't really change a thing. My work ethic stayed the same and I just continued to grind throughout the year.

"It was pretty tough. Just coming here the first week, but I just did my best to continue to learn the offense throughout the year and I feel like it really prepared me for this moment. I'm comfortable in the system now. Now I can go out there and play fast.”

Sermon was 22 the last time he got significant playing time in an NFL game. He’s 24 now and fighting the odds to carve out a role in a very talented, very crowded Eagles running back room.

When last year ended and it became clear that Miles Sanders wouldn’t be back, it left Kenny Gainwell, Boston Scott and Sermon at the top of the Eagles’ running back hierarchy. And Sermon, a 3rd-round pick in 2021, looked like he had a chance to be a major piece of the Eagles’ running attack.

But then they signed Rashaad Penny and traded for D’Andre Swift and all of a sudden Sermon’s place on the roster seemed much more tenuous.

"You know, new guys coming in and that was just kind of a question of where I stand,” he said. "But … they kept me active on the 53 all (last) year, so I knew they wanted me to be here.”

That is huge.

NFL teams don’t keep guys on the 53-man roster without playing them if they don’t really like the player. Otherwise, he goes on the practice squad and they risk losing him.

"It definitely stood out that they wanted me to be here and that's why I just continued to keep my head down and keep grinding,” he said. "They wanted me to be here, so I've got to do my part and just continue to work hard.”

Sermon is such an intriguing guy, and it’s going to be interesting to see how he performs in the joint practices and preseason games.

So far in training camp, all five backs have taken turns with the first offense. Realistically, Swift and Gainwell aren’t going anywhere, and if Penny is healthy he’s close to a roster lock. That probably leaves Scott and Sermon fighting for one roster spot. And you know how the Eagles feel about Scott.

This is definitely an uphill battle for Sermon.

"We're all rotating through and we’re all going out there competing and I try not to worry too much about it,” he said. "I just know whenever the opportunity presents itself when I'm out there, I try to take full advantage of it.

What sets him apart from the other backs in camp?

"I just feel my combination of size, speed, power, balance, and I can catch very well,” he said. "I feel like it's a little different, mainly just because of my size.”

At 6-foot, 215 pounds, Sermon is the biggest back in the mix and although we haven’t had a chance to see it yet because the Eagles rarely go live to the ground at practice, he developed a reputation at Ohio State as a very physical runner.

"We all bring something a little different to the table,” he said. "It’s very competitive. … We're all great athletes and you know we're really pushing each other and I do my best to take a little bit from each of them.”


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