How Gainwell responded after Sirianni screamed at him


Joint practices were a terrific experience for the Eagles. 

Not so terrific for Kenny Gainwell.

Gainwell’s preseason struggles continued during joint practices with the Browns last week in Berea, Ohio. 

He dropped passes on Thursday and Friday — that’s five drops in four practices since he returned from a hip injury a week ago Sunday — but he really incurred the wrath of coach Nick Sirianni when he made two assignment errors in the same drill at practice on Friday.

“Two mental errors? Get out,” Sirianni bellowed at the second-year running back.

Gainwell is a talented kid who had an impressive rookie season, but Sirianni doesn’t tolerate mental mistakes at practice, and he had seen enough.

But two days later, in the Eagles-Browns preseason game in Cleveland, Gainwell responded the best way possible. 

On his only drive of the game, Gainwell ran 11 times for 46 yards, including a 16-yard run on a 3rd-and-13 late in the first quarter and a two-yard TD run later in the drive.

“I yelled at him on Friday and really after he scored his touchdown and came out, I just said to him, ‘I love you, man,’ and he said the same thing back,” Sirianni said. 

“And I said, ‘You know, on Friday, that was maybe the first time I’ve yelled at you in two years,’ and he didn’t think anything of it. He likes the hard coaching, and I’m glad Kenny Gainwell is on our team."

Gainwell and Boston Scott have split the first-team running back reps since Miles Sanders was sidelined with a hamstring injury after the preseason opener against the Jets.

In the joint practices, Gainwell made some big plays but they were overshadowed by his mistakes.

“You know, I had a couple mistakes in practice, but that’s a way to bounce back, to get in the end zone,” he said. “For me, it’s just bounce back and do what I came here to do. Go into the game and execute.”

Scott did his thing on the Eagles’ first drive, accounting for 44 yards on 10 carries and one reception and capping it with a one-yard TD run.

Gainwell got the second drive before Sirianni got him out of the game as well and turned things over to Jason Huntley.

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“We just were able to pound it a little,” Sirianni said. “We were just putting our heads down and running, and sometimes it was muddy and sometimes it was clean, but they ran really well. 

"Boston had a great first series, it was a 14-play drive, so we said get him out of there after that and then Kenny had a (long) series, and then we said get him out of there after that.”

The Eagles were obviously vanilla in the game, so don't expect Sirianni to call many running plays on 3rd-and-13 during the regular season. But he did it Sunday, and Gainwell responded with a great effort to move the sticks.

“He’s just a tough-nosed kid,” Sirianni said. “He’s a guy that’s going to be really physical with the ball in his hands and go get the yards, and we trusted him in that scenario. Sometimes it’s what the defense plays and you feel good about it, and he did a good job.” 

Gainwell last year became only the sixth rookie since 1985 drafted in the fifth round or later with at least 250 yards both rushing and receiving (and the first since Jordan Howard in 2016).

The Eagles are very high on him as a runner, receiver and blitz stuffer.

But if you mess up, you get yelled at.

What really matters is how you respond, and Gainwell responded beautifully.

“Kenny had not his best day on Friday,” Sirianni said. “But he came out and showed out in the game.”

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