Miles Sanders has been a topic of conversation for many folks in South Philly as of late. From the moment he was drafted with the 54th overall pick to the unfortunate hamstring injury that kept him out of OTA’s. It’s been a constant concern for the media, not being able to see the Eagles second-round pick in action. One person that was never concerned about what Miles Sanders can deliver for the Eagles offense has been the man himself, Miles Sanders.
Sanders was cleared to practice for the start of training camp on Thursday and he did what he’s always done best, hit the ground running. Although Howard started out first in getting the first-team reps, the teams coaching staff made sure to heavily involve Sanders, Sproles Smallwood, and Adams. What a deep group the Eagles finally have at running back, but depth may not be their actual strength.
Since 2015, the Eagles have lacked a three-down back. They have also been struggling in finding consistency week in and week out from their backfield. While Howard is the more experienced back, Sanders is the more needed back.
Sanders has been fighting for yards all his life, but the goal was always the same. The goal for the twenty-two-year-old rookie has been to make the NFL by any means possible. His determination and focus have led him to possibly the best situation for a rookie. He was drafted by a team that’s only one year removed from their first Super Bowl victory. Not only that but the team he was drafted by is only on the other side of state from his hometown.
For his first season, Sanders is expected to be apart of a lethal one-two punch alongside Jordan Howard, but depending on how quick the rookie understands the offense while getting better at pass protection, he could potentially end up out-touching Howard in carries.
After serving as a back up for Saquon Barkley for three years at Penn State, the young running back finally broke out in 2018. He finished the season with 1,274 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in his only year as a starter. The shifty back finished last season with 47 forced missed tackles, 845 rushing yards after contact and 38 10+ yard runs. He wasn’t an easy back to bring down as he averaged 3.8 yards after contact per attempt according to Pro Football Focus.
During thursdays training camp practice, Sanders showed everyone exactly why the Eagles slected him after breaking off a long run while finding his way in between the tackles. A running back of his caliber is everything the Eagles have been missing for quite some time. Fortunately for Sanders, he’ll be running behind the best offensive line in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.
“He missed pretty much the entire spring, and it’s unfortunate.” Doug Pederson told reporters on Thursday. “But he’s healthy. He’s ready to go. We just want to mix him in and see the athleticism, see the talent, see what he recalls from the spring being around meetings and watching practices and stuff like that.
We just work him in slowly, get him caught up, then we wait for these games to really see what he can do.”
While the Eagles coaching staff will bring Sanders along gradually, don’t expect him to have a slow start. The rookie back is hungry and motivated to show the world that he’s more than just a former back uo to Saquon Barkely. They may share jersey numbers and a deep friendship but Sanders is out to prove to the world that he will no longer be held back in the shadows.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports