Lemieux has been out since September 2021. A severe knee injury paused Lemieux’s career, sidelining him after he had commandeered a starting job. The Giants drafted Lemieux in the 2020 fifth round and turned to him as a starter for much of his rookie season. But the team’s new regime addressed the interior line extensively this offseason, signing Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano before drafting Joshua Ezeudu and Marcus McKethan.
The Giants, however, lost McKethan for the season and are without starting left guard Ben Bredeson. The team having Lemieux and former center starter Nick Gates, who also battled back from a severe injury, back will provide some options for Brian Daboll up front. Bredeson, whom the team placed on IR last week, will be a candidate to be one of Big Blue’s injury activations later this season.
This addition comes after the Saints worked out a host of running backs Tuesday. Howard was part of a contingent that also included Jordan Wilkins, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. The former Bears, Eagles and Dolphins back will serve as depth for a Saints team that has needed to turn to it this year.
Alvin Kamara has missed two games thus far and faces a possible late-season suspension in connection with a February arrest, but with the perennial Pro Bowler’s case continuing to be pushed back, the Saints might be in the clear there for 2022. Still, Kamara has battled injuries this season. The Saints also waived Tony Jones on Monday.
Howard has been with the Eagles for most of the past three seasons, and he made the practice squad-to-active roster jump last season to make an impact. Philadelphia deployed the league’s No. 1-ranked rushing attack in 2021, and Howard became a central figure in that climb during the season’s second half. Playing in just seven games, Howard totaled 406 rushing yards (4.7 per carry) and scored three touchdowns last year. Howard, 27, began his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with the Bears, but after a 2019 trade, the former fifth-round pick worked as mostly a rotational back in Philly.
The Saints have Mark Ingram and Dwayne Washington on their active roster. When Kamara missed the team’s London game in Week 4, Murray received a call-up and handled 11 carries. The 32-year-old back gained 57 yards and scored in that game. Although the Saints offered Murray an active-roster spot, the veteran chose the Broncos’ offer, viewing it as a better opportunity due to Williams’ season-ending injury.
Howard had recently also worked out for the Saints, along with Bo Scarbrough, according to Nick Underhill at New Orleans Football Network. Howard has bounced between Philadelphia and Miami with limited success since averaging 1,123 rushing yards per season and totaling 24 rushing touchdowns in his first three seasons with the Bears. Injuries and limited productivity have really hurt Howard’s success over the past three years.
As the Eagles’ increased run-game usage produced a dominant stretch that led to an NFL-leading ground attack, the team relied on few backs. That may be the approach the Eagles take again this season.
Entering a contract year, Miles Sanders remains Philadelphia’s backfield leader. But the team re-signed Boston Scott, despite non-tendering its longtime backup as a restricted free agent, and has 2021 fifth-round pick Kenneth Gainwell under contract for three more years. The Eagles still might be on the lookout for a player to complete their backfield arsenal.
The team should be considered likely to add a back before or during training camp, Adam Caplan of InsidetheBirds.com offers. Jordan Howard may again be the on-call player here, with InsidetheBirds.com’s Geoff Mosher adding the Eagles are the only team to show interest in Howard since the Dolphins cut him last year. Another late agreement appears to be on the radar.
Acquired via trade from the Bears in 2019, Howard returned to the Eagles as a late-season fill-in in 2020, signing back with Philly that November — after his Dolphins deal did not work out. Last year, the Eagles made Howard more of a priority by re-signing him in April. Howard, who moved on and off the Eagles’ practice squad at points last season, became a key part of Philly’s midseason pivot to the run. Despite playing in only seven games, not debuting until Halloween, Howard outrushed Scott by amassing 406 yards (4.7 per carry).
Sanders (5.5), Scott (4.3) and Howard all averaged north of 4.3 yards per carry last season, which included a span in which the Eagles rushed for at least 175 yards per game in seven straight contests — a feat that had not occurred in the NFL since 1985. Jalen Hurts‘ team-high 784 yards obviously contributed heavily to the team’s rushing success. It will be interesting, with A.J. Brown in the fold, how much Philly leans on the run game this year.
A neck issue caused trouble for Howard last year, but the former fifth-round pick is still just 27. His assistance to the past two Eagles rushing attacks may again make him the first candidate to join the team’s backfield. Latavius Murray and Devontae Booker, who have each served as often-used backups for multiple teams, are also available.