When the Eagles backfield was finalized following the 2019 NFL Draft, it was assumed that the shape was set in stone. Bowling ball Jordan Howard would act as the lead back, while electrifying rookie Miles Sanders would be second in command, bringing a more elusive skill set that is lethal in the open field and in outside-zone looks. We’re just over one week into Training Camp and there is already talk of Sanders taking over the RB1 throne sooner rather than later.
It was assumed to be an eventuality anyway, with Howard poached from Chicago with just one year left on his contract…but Sanders was expected to benefit from the lighter workload, given that he didn’t really receive much tire wear in college and there were some prominent holes in his game.
However, last night’s open practice at Lincoln Financial Field didn’t just leave fans in awe and reminiscing of the LeSean McCoy days, but it let the penny drop for just about everyone in attendance that Sanders is the real deal.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise though. Despite missing OTA’s with a hamstring injury, Sanders has hit the ground running this Summer, drawing praise from his Head Coach in the process.
“I think the biggest thing for me was how well he came back in shape coming off those injuries in the off-season, missing so much off-season time.” Doug Pederson said. “His conditioning, keeping his weight where we asked him to be, and then just attacking every single day. We have monitored his reps, so we’re not overdoing it with him.
And he’s showing up every day.”
Sanders spent much of his career with the Nittany Lions basking in the light of Saquon Barkley and after finally getting his shot in the big time, provided enough of a sample size to earn himself a second-round grade. Tallying 1,274 yards on 220 attempts, Sanders showcased his acceleration and ability to be a home-run hit.
It may be premature to give him the starting reins, especially with Jordan Howard shining in pass protection, an area of improvement for the rookie, and working on his hands consistently. Howard has been nothing but extremely efficient in his short career and that should only improve behind such a strong offensive line. But if Sanders can keep improving, there’s no reason this can’t become a matchup-dependent backfield within a few weeks.
We haven’t seen Sanders in preseason yet and that will be the big turning point. Can those skills flashed in training camp and during his time at Penn State translate into preseason play and beyond as anticipated? If that is indeed the case, then the man who was drafted with the exact same pick LeSean McCoy was all those years ago, may be destined to walk in his footsteps.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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