By Dave Spadaro
Not all that long ago, as a 10th-grader at Central Bucks South High School, in fact, Josh Adams ran for an absurd 2,085 yards and 28 touchdowns. Adams followed up his brilliant high school career by starring at Notre Dame, gaining more than 3,200 rushing yards and scoring 20 touchdowns.
But when it came to the NFL Draft, Adams was an afterthought. Thirteen running backs were chosen, but Adams was not one of them.
“It was a downer but I felt like I had overcome other things in my life and that I would overcome this,” said Adams, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in high school. “All I wanted was a chance. God has a plan for everything.”
The Eagles gave Adams a chance, signing him following the draft. And after sitting out through the spring practices with a foot injury, Adams reported healthy for training camp intent on defying the odds — fewer than 5 percent of undrafted players make it to a 53-man NFL roster.
So far, Adams has done everything he can to impress the Eagles and give them something to think about. Adams ran for 30 yards on six carries, including a 15-yard gain in the Eagles’ preseason opener against Pittsburgh last week. Just for good measure, Adams caught a pair of passes for 11 more yards, showing his all-around skills and how they translate to the NFL. Adams made an impression. He opened eyes. At the very least, he’s giving the Eagles something to consider with three preseason games remaining.
“I am here to play my best football every day. I can’t worry about any numbers or my situation. I can only focus on day to day, working hard and paying attention to detail,” Adams said. “We have a lot of great players here. I’m learning from them. I feel like I’m competing against myself, not the rest of the team.”
Adams is an example of living life on the roster bubble. He’s got no guaranteed contract. He’s got no guarantees, truthfully. Adams is playing for a paycheck.
“I’m here to make the team,” he said. “I’m here for a job.”
In the context of the Eagles’ running back room, Adams has a long road in front of him. Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles are going to make the roster. That leaves Wendell Smallwood, a third-year pro, Matt Jones, a former third-round draft pick (by Washington in 2015) and Donnel Pumphrey (Eagles’ fourth-round draft pick last year) competing with Adams. This is an uphill battle, but Adams is off to an encouraging start.
“All I can do is make the most of my opportunities,” Adams said.
This is another local-boy-trying-to-make-good story, much like Clement’s from a year ago (Clement is from Glassboro, New Jersey). All Clement did was work his way from the bottom up and then go on to star in the Super Bowl LII victory with four receptions that gained 100 yards and a touchdown.
The odds are significantly stacked against Adams. Not that he cares even a little bit.
“We’re all here so we have a chance to show what we can do,” Adams said. “I’m keeping my head down, doing everything I can to get better every day. I’m not sweating the other stuff.”