Monday, August 8, 2022

Eagles oblige ex-cowboys to ‘bowling ball’ ahead of training camp

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The Philadelphia Eagles are bringing in another running back. The team intends to sign JaQuan Hardy and have the 225-pounder compete for a backfield job in training camp. He would be a contender for the role of Jordan Howard.

The Eagles now have six backs in the roster: Hardy, Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Kenny Gainwell, Jason Huntley, Kennedy Brooks. There had been rumors that they brought back Howard or some other physical attacker like Devontae Booker. Philadelphia made a last-minute move to Hardy, a move that was first reported Chris Tomasson of St Paul Pioneer Press. Tomasson noted that the Minnesota Vikings wanted to get Hardy before the Eagles signed him.

Hardy, who is from Cleveland, graduated from Tiffin University in 2021 before joining the Dallas Cowboys. He was active in three games last season, including a surprise increase in the season finale on Jan. 8 against Philadelphia. Hardy rushed three times for 26 yards and scored a touchdown in this.

General manager Howie Roseman hinted that he wasn’t done adding talent after the 2022 draft. He promised to monitor the waiver wire for uncollected hidden gems. Hardy – one touchdown on eight offensive snaps – could be one of those guys.

“We’re just trying to be as aggressive as possible and we know just like in the draft that we’re going to get some guys and miss some guys,” Roseman told reporters April 30. “I think we managed a good class, and there will still be roster spots open when this is all over because we will continue to look for opportunities.”

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Hardy was dubbed the “bowling ball” at Tiffin because of his build (5-foot-10, 225 pounds) and aggressive running style. Slender but strong, he seeks contact every time he touches the rock. Hardy jumped on the radar of NFL scouts after being named the Great Midwest Athletic Conference’s 2019 Male Athlete of the Year. However, he missed the 2020 campaign after contracting COVID-19.

NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein predicted Hardy for the seventh round while comparing him to the Los Angeles Rams’ Darrell Henderson. Injuries and missed time — Hardy tore his meniscus in 2018, a knee injury that threatened his career — saw his draft inventory plummet.

“Running back at the lower level with directional change at the upper level and balance in the lower body,” Zierlein wrote. “Hardy does a good job hitting the line of scrimmage before unleashing rhythmic, explosive cuts to match his reads. He tends to overdo things at times and needs to be more willing to finish one run and move against NFL speed to the next.

Hardy is also incredibly strong. Here’s what the Cowboys’ website wrote about him in their draft profile:

Hardy told the News Herald that he started doing 30 push-ups in every round he wasn’t selected in the 2021 draft. He started the punishment imposed early in the fourth round (pick #106) and was forced to stop at pick #158 after his arms began to cramp. The 24-year-old never heard his name that day, although the Cowboys would sign him after the draft.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to hear my name called,” Hardy told Mark Podolski. “It’s tough mentally because everyone wants that. At the end of the day, God had a plan. It may not be the plan you want, but it’s what you need.”

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