Thursday, August 11, 2022

Eagles’ Miles Sanders clearly team’s No. 1 RB, with Nick Sirianni backing up talk in practice

PHILADELPHIA — Miles Sanders doesn’t have to do much to be put on notice, as his play speaks for himself. Being a running back of the Philadelphia Eagles always carries some extra weight, as Sanders has experienced entering year four with the team.

When Sanders has a big run, the highlights are all over social media. Ditto with the cuts that shake defenders and the eye-popping moves in the open field. The cause-effect relationship also zeroes in on the route running and dropped passes, as Sanders lives under the microscope as a back who has the potential to be elite. 

Even when Sanders isn’t doing something, it’s noticed. During Friday’s training camp practice, Sanders was in with the second team during some of the team drills. It’s Philadelphia, so it got noticed. 

When asked prior to Saturday’s practice, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni brushed it off. 

“I don’t know where that came from, ” Sirianni said. “Our first three backs — Kenny (Gainwell), Miles (Sanders) and Boston (Scott) rotate in-and-out three plays in the first two sessions of the period. Those three guys rotate that area. 

“Miles is our guy. There’s no secret here.”

Could it have been coach speak? Sure, but Sirianni made his words loud and clear on the first play of 11-on-11 team drills. Sanders — lined up with the 1s — found a hole in the B-gap and hit the second level immediately. He had a big cut and juke at the end of the play that would have been a huge gain on Sundays with his ability.

As Sanders drew the oohs and ahhs from the crowd, Siriaani made sure to yell over toward where the media was standing — with a big smile on his face and this message:

“He’s in with the 1s! He’s a starter!”

Sirianni had a few media members laughing, but the future of Sanders is uncertain heading into year four. Sanders is one of the league’s most productive backs when he gets the football, evidenced where he ranks on the stat sheet. His 5.1 yards per carry average is third in the NFL for running backs with 400-plus carries (behind only Nick Chubb and Jonathan Taylor), and his 5.66 yards per touch average is fourth amongst his position (only Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey, and Taylor are higher). 

The Eagles will eventually have to decide if Sanders is going to be their long-term back, even if Sirianni is backing up the talk now. Half of the games Sanders played in 2021 resulted in him having less then double-digit carries. 

Sirianni can certainly further echo his comments on the field this fall. Sanders also had a loud message as well about his goal this year.

“(To) get the respect I deserve,”Sanders said. “Don’t write articles about me being on the second team.”

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