Eagles trade Lewis to Browns

Lewis
Lewis
Posted: April 12, 2013

LAST MONTH at the NFL meetings in Arizona, new Eagles coach Chip Kelly was asked about his team's running backs.

"I know LeSean [McCoy]'s talented. Bryce [Brown] is really talented. Chris Polk was hurt a lot [in 2012], but I saw Chris play in college, and I know Chris is an outstanding football player. So how does he fit into the mix? You don't know until you get out there," said Kelly, who coached Oregon when Polk was a Washington star. "That's a position, you're a sprained ankle away from - it goes from a position of strength to a position of weakness, because you can only carry a couple of guys. Obviously LeSean, Bryce and Chris have got some skills."

There were a lot of reporters asking questions, so no one got to the obvious followup: What about the other Eagles running back, Dion Lewis, who'd averaged a quite acceptable 4.8 yards per carry (36 carries, 171 yards) in his two seasons since being drafted in the fifth round from Pitt? Maybe the new coach just didn't quite have a handle on everybody yet.

Or, maybe he did. Thursday, the Eagles traded Lewis to their old friends the Cleveland Browns, for Emmanuel Acho, a linebacker the Browns drafted in the sixth round a year ago. Acho missed his rookie season with a knee injury. His position coach in Cleveland was current Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis.

Acho (6-1, 240) is hardly assured of a spot on the team, but it might be worth noting that he is just about exactly the size of Akeem Jordan, the veteran linebacker and special-teams standout the Eagles let drift into free agency. In the short run, Acho's acquisition might have led to the release Thursday of linebacker Ryan Rau, who played in the final four games of the season after opening 2012 on the practice squad.

Also released were another linebacker, Marcus Dowtin, who joined the practice squad late last season, corner Chris Hawkins and wideout Ron Johnson, who spent last season on IR with an ankle injury.

Lewis probably could have done more with the opportunity he got to be the Eagles' principal kickoff returner in 2011, when he averaged 21.6 yards on 31 returns. Last season, Brandon Boykin took the return role and in the backfield, Lewis lost time to Brown, a bigger, stronger back. Lewis wasn't a special-teams asset.

"Dion had an extremely productive college career and responded well in his limited chances with the Eagles," said Browns president Joe Banner, who held that position with the Eagles when Lewis was drafted.

Acho's older brother Sam is a Cardinals linebacker.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

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