J.J. Arrington, a utility RB, was acquired in a trade with the Denver Broncos earlier in the offseason. The trade was for young LB Joe Mays. The Eagles made this trade perhaps in relief of Brian Westbrook, but it now seems that they have outdone themselves, having a total of five RBs on the active roster now.
The only two players who have a solid job right now in that position are LeSean McCoy (starter) and Mike Bell (second-string). Rumor has it that Martell Mallet, a first-year NFL player, is Arrington's biggest threat to being dropped off the roster. Third-year Eldra Buckley is the only player out of the remaining three who has taken snaps as an Eagle. The three-way battle between Mallet, Arrington, and Buckley is turning into quite the interesting topic, and we will soon find out who will make the cut.
I know that Mallet is a better rusher, Buckley has shown more potential and has seen more playing time, but I can see Arrington being more valuable than both those players combined.
Why? Because Arrington is a kick returner.
The Eagles currently have Ellis Hobbs and Quinten Demps splitting the kickoff returns. Hobbs is not the best choice as he is also starting at CB, and is the one of the more experienced players on defense. The last thing the defense needs is for Hobbs to get injured on a routine kick return.
Last season, Hobbs's kick return stats were:
- Total Number of Returns: 20
- Total Number of Yards: 481
- Longest Return: 63
- Total Number of Touchdowns: Zero
The only problem I can see with Arrington is that he has not played since 2008 because of a failed physical in 2009. So he obviously needs to get back in the groove before he can start to fire on all cylinders. He was the kick returner for the Arizona Cardinals that year.
His 2008 kick return stats were:
- Total Number of Returns: 36
- Total Number of Yards: 923
- Longest Return: 93
- Total Number of Touchdowns: One
I see a hidden weapon.
I'm not calling Arrington the next Josh Cribbs or Devin Hester, but his stats show that he is a definite upgrade over Hobbs. If you add the risk of Hobbs getting hurt on a kick return, there is no question. If Reid is still shaky on the idea of Arrington taking all of the returns, then he can simply stick Demps back there to balance out the takes.
This could help young Kevin Kolb's offense leaps and bounds by allowing Arrington to get them into good field position. As far as the RB duel goes, I say we drop Buckley, who has not shown the same type of running that Mallet has, and stick Arrington on special teams. This would drop the RB count to a solid three, and would give Mallet time to learn behind McCoy and Bell.
Hopefully, Reid will make the right choice, seeing how the Eagles special teams have not been great recently. Arrington can help the Eagles and show that he is not a "bust."