Rookie running back Miles Sanders will face two opponents during training camp this summer: the Philadelphia Eagles' defense, and time.
Sanders, the dynamic back out Penn State who was taken 53rd overall by Philly in the 2019 NFL draft, sat out most of the spring with a hamstring injury, robbing him of precious reps as he acclimates to the pros. That leaves just training camp and the preseason for Sanders to show the coaching staff he is ready for a significant role right out of the chute.
"I fully expect him to come in ready, come in healthy, ready to go," coach Doug Pederson said. "We have to get him in the mix early. Definitely have to see exactly where he is mentally from all the mental reps that he took this spring, and slowly work him into the mix and see just how he can help us on game day."
The story said Sanders' rise to the top could be gradual with Howard in the picture and the fact the Eagles have been most successful when using a committee approach at RB. Howard is quietly third in the NFL in rushing since 2016. We had a story on Sanders recently that said he still needs to work on ball security, pass blocking and receiving.
Sanders speaking on NFL Total Access believes the battle for snaps is "definitely going to be competitive. That's what I like about rooms likes this. It was like this at Penn State. It was a very talented running back room. But I'm just used to that stuff: competing and making each other better. Nobody's really going to be the star running back, I think . . . the ball's going to be spread out a lot, and that's what I kind of like, too."
His comments come after beat writer Jimmy Kempiski wrote on Monday that he expected Jordan Howard and Corey Clement to start ahead of Sanders early in the season.
The Eagles running back situation, as usual, will be a pebble in the shoe of fantasy footballers. The hope for many was that Sanders would take over early and win the majority of the looks, but an offseason hamstring injury and veteran Jordan Howard to leapfrog, it doesn't look like we'll have a clear understanding of their workloads anytime soon. For now, Howard has value at his ADP, but be wary of this situation
Corey Clement spent some of spring practices running on a side field, but he has not yet practiced with the team. Realistically, Clement is the only running back on the team the offensive staff can count on to be a contributor in the passing game, and is the clear "passing down" back with Darren Sproles not on the roster. The Eagles need him to be healthy for the regular season.
Clement was huge for the Eagles in 2017 in both the run and pass, which included 100 receiving yards and a TD in the Super Bowl, but in 2018 he dealt with injuries so the Birds need him to get back to form in 2019. Sanders, the story said, needs to work on pass protection, receiving and ball security in camp, but is already behind due to an injury this spring.
Eagles RB coach Duce Staley said he’s happy with how both RBs Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders approached their first taste of the offense and with the growth they showed before it was time to scatter until training camp.
“I think that you talk to those guys, they’ll all tell you that . . . to get better, which you want those guys to think that way, be humble, especially when it comes to catching the ball and understand where to be,” Staley said, via PennLive.com. “That’s one of my things as far as route running. You’ve got to understand the offense, and you’ve got to understand the progression of the offense, which is very important. And for those two guys to come in and kind of learn that rather quickly, I’m very pleased.”
A lot will need to be sorted out when it comes to the Eagles RBs. Sanders had an injury in early team workouts so he may be behind a bit. That could leave Howard and Clement splitting work early in the season. But Sanders is expected to be ready for camp and a force this year. We actually have Sanders ranked as the back to own in Philly but there looks to be a lot of mouths to feed in the backfield.