PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said it time and time again last summer. He would have had no problem screaming it from the rooftops.
"Miles [Sanders] is our guy."
There have been no such proclamations about the running back position by Sirianni this year. In fact, the picture is downright cloudy. Sanders is gone, having signed a four-year, $25.4 million deal with the Carolina Panthers in free agency. And -- count 'em -- five backs have worked with the first team during training camp, including newcomers D'Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny as well as holdovers Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott and Trey Sermon.
"They'll rotate throughout [camp]," Sirianni said. "They just all need to get reps, and we don't care where those are happening."
Signs are pointing to a running back by committee in Philadelphia, with matchups and in-game performance likely to sway how much each player -- namely Swift, Penny and Gainwell -- is utilized in a given week. But there are broader hints about how this group could be deployed.
Swift, who was acquired from the Detroit Lions for a 2025 fourth-round pick in late April, has been lining up all over the place while being used mostly as a pass-catcher. We've seen him motion into the slot and set up as a receiver on the outside. One of the highlights of camp came on a play where Swift was split out wide. Quarterback Jalen Hurts, seeing Swift being guarded by a linebacker, made a check at the line of scrimmage and hit Swift down the left sideline for a sizable gain.
"D’Andre, super versatile guy," Scott said. "Whenever you have a guy that’s consistently separating from [defenders], you want to watch that and learn from that."
Swift ranks fifth among running backs in receiving yards (1,198) since coming into the league in 2020. Detroit lined him up in the slot or on the outside 34 times over 14 games last season, resulting in five catches on eight targets. Based on the early evidence, those numbers could very well increase in Philly.
"Whatever they ask me to do, I’m going to be ready for it," Swift said. "I’m here to service the team and get some wins.”
It's no surprise the speedy, sharp-cutting Swift is standing out in training camp, where the players are often in shorts and shells. It's when the pads come on that Penny gets to distinguish himself. On such occasions, the former Seattle Seahawk has shown off his acceleration through the hole and physicality and contact balance on the second level.
Ability has never been the issue -- he's averaged 5.7 yards per attempt since entering the league in 2018 -- it's injuries that have held him back. He's hoping a drop in weight will lead to better health. Penny, 27, said he played around 235-237 pounds for Seattle last year and is down to 230, with the hopes of getting to his college weight of 225 before the start of the season.
“Just me cutting off a couple pounds from last year, I just feel lighter, my ankles feel great and my knees feel amazing," Penny said.
“I think me playing lighter gives me a better chance to play in all 17 games, even 21, so I’m excited for this new opportunity.”
The one surprise in camp is how well Penny has caught the ball, seeing as he has only 27 receptions over five NFL seasons. Several teammates have taken note of his pass-catching chops, and Penny said it's something he's comfortable doing even though it wasn't part of his job description in Seattle.
There is plenty of promise between Swift and Penny, who have flashed brightly over their respective careers and are in search of greater consistency.
“They’re great players with the ball in their hands," Hurts said. "I’m excited to see them more, get a feel for them and how they play the game. They’re obviously great assets for us.”
Part of what makes the Eagles' running back situation difficult to decode is the presence of 24-year-old Gainwell. A former fifth-round pick out of Memphis, Gainwell enjoyed an expanded role during the playoffs last season, racking up 291 total yards and a pair of touchdowns. He's proven effective as a runner and receiver while making strides as a pass protector. Sirianni likes to use him in the team's four-minute offense -- a role he could hold onto.
Scott, meanwhile, has proven to be highly efficient with his limited touches, and Sirianni always brings up Sermon, the former third-round pick out of Oklahoma, whenever doling out praise to the backs.
There are only so many touches to go around. Assuming health, Swift, Penny and Gainwell appear in line to get the bulk of them, with Penny as the more traditional runner and Swift and Gainwell serving as the do-it-all backs.
"We'll see how it plays out," Sirianni said. "It can look any way we need it to look. ... Good thing is I don't have to make a decision on how it needs to look quite yet."