Josh Adams is keeping his head down and his eyes open. His only focus is football, the Eagles, the day in front of him. A rookie who joined the team after the 2018 NFL Draft after a career at Notre Dame, Adams is living a dream many of us have had: Playing for the hometown team.
Adams was born in the city of Philadelphia and moved to Warrington, where he starred for Central Bucks South High School. Don’t wake him up if this is a dream, what’s happening to him at the ripe age of 22.
“I’m keeping my efforts on my job, my profession,” says Adams, who has become, improbably, the Eagles’ go-to running back and leads the team with 291 rushing yards, averaging 5.2 yards per attempt. “I’m happy to be here. I’m thankful to be here helping this team, doing something that I’ve always wanted to do.”
Adams has taken a bumpy road to the NFL and he’s zoomed right to the top of the depth chart in stunning fashion since making it here. An undrafted rookie is the lowest of the low in an NFL Training Camp, and Adams fit that description in the summer. Slowed by a foot injury that scared off teams in the draft, Adams missed the spring practices and worked his way slowly into the running back picture in the summer. But he got some touches, made some plays and impressed the Eagles enough that, after he was cut as the 53-man roster was formed, he was brought back to the team’s practice squad.
A couple of weeks into the season, Adams was promoted to the 53-man roster, but the Eagles still had Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood, and Darren Sproles was expected back soon after suffering a hamstring injury.
Funny how things turn out, isn’t it? Ajayi was lost for the season with a knee injury in October, Sproles still hasn’t played since his hamstring popped in practice after the Week 1 win over Atlanta and neither Clement nor Smallwood has emerged as a reliable, first-look back in the offense.
Enter Adams and his gangly 6-foot-2, 225-pound self. He gained 30 yards on six carries against Indianapolis, opened eyes with nine carries and 61 hard-fought yards in London against Jacksonville and then moved into the main running back role with seven carries and 47 yards against Dallas, seven carries, 53 yards and a touchdown at New Orleans and the workhorse load of 22 rushing attempts, 84 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion in Sunday’s win over the Giants.
“He’s a very talented player and he’s learned quickly and applied himself. As a junior at Notre Dame, he was in the discussion for the Heisman Trophy,” coach Doug Pederson said. “He has worked hard, he’s dedicated to learning and he’s really made great strides. We’re leaning on him and he’s responded.”
At 5-6, the Eagles are one game off the pace in the NFC East, trailing 6-5 Dallas and Washington. They host Washington on Monday night and travel to Dallas the following Sunday. The path to the postseason goes through the NFC East. And Josh Adams, local kid and rookie, is in the middle of it all.
“I’m trying to do what I’m told and do it to the best of my ability,” Adams said. “I’m learning every day. This is challenging me, and I love it. I’m pushing myself as hard as I can to help this team win football games. That’s what matters to me.” ••