Eagles’ Miles Sanders says he’ll play against the New York Jets as Jordan Howard and Boston Scott miss practice
Howard is in jeopardy of missing his second straight game with a knee injury, while Scott missed consecutive practice sessions with a non-COVID illness.
The Eagles’ running back carousel could continue this weekend.
Miles Sanders, who is dealing with an ankle injury, was a full participant at practice Thursday and said he expects to play Sunday against the New York Jets. Kenneth Gainwell should also be available, but there’s uncertainty surrounding both Jordan Howard and Boston Scott after the pair missed practice.
Howard is in jeopardy of missing his second straight game with a knee injury, while Scott missed consecutive practice sessions with a non-COVID-19 illness. The duo was featured heavily while the Eagles discovered an effective offensive identity as a run-first team as Sanders spent time on injured reserve with an ankle sprain.
Over a four-game stretch from Week 8 and Week 11 when Sanders returned, the team averaged 217.5 rushing yards per game while going 3-1.
Sanders had played in the last two games, but aggravated his hurt ankle late in the Eagles’ 13-7 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday. He said he took himself out after spending a few plays fighting through the discomfort.
“It was really my call,” he said. “I limped off the field and tried to go back in for a couple plays, but I would’ve been selfish if I would have stayed in.”
Going into Sunday’s game against the Jets, Sanders said he’s still dealing with the injury, but he’ll be available.
“Right now, it’s just day-to-day,” Sanders said. “But I feel good. So, I’ll be practicing today and hopefully I’ll be playing Sunday.”
Even with the team’s recent rushing success, it’s been an uneven season for the 24-year-old running back. He started the season out as the featured back, but coach Nick Sirianni called almost no designed runs, so he had a limited role in the offense.
He got hurt in Week 7 against the Las Vegas Raiders, which was the first game Sirianni tried to balance the offense more. He spent the next three weeks watching from the sideline as Howard and Scott ran through opposing defenses.
Sanders returned in Week 11 for the team’s win against the New Orleans Saints and had 94 rushing yards, but had a costly fumble at the Eagles’ 6-yard line and was benched late in the game for running out of bounds during a four-minute drill. Sanders did the same thing earlier this season against the Carolina Panthers.
“We pulled him out of the game and just reminded him, again, to stay in bounds. He had two in Carolina,” Sirianni said last week. “Repeat offenders of things, we usually get mad about. He knows. Shoot, if he had that next carry and didn’t have to come out of the game to be reminded to stay inbounds, he would have had a hundred yards.”
It wouldn’t be fair to call Sanders injury-prone, but he has missed time with minor injuries in each of the last two years. He was sidelined for four games last season with a few different injuries, including a glute injury, a hurt ankle, and a hurt knee.
“These past few seasons have been a little frustrating,” Sanders said of the nicks and bruises. “But I’m not trying to let it dwell on me or anything. It’s a long season, if I let that affect me, then I won’t be playing to the best of my abilities. Stuff like this happens, you have to get back as soon as possible and get right back to it.”
Elliott named special teams player of the month
Eagles kicker Jake Elliott was named the NFC’s special teams player of the month Thursday, marking the first time an Eagles player has gotten the honor since David Akers in 2010.
Elliott made all eight of his field goals in the month and maintained his perfect extra-point conversion rate.
“It’s nice to be recognized for it, but it’s still the same process,” said Elliott, who also had been named the NFC’s special teams player of the week after converting all four of his field goals against the Saints. “I’ll go out to practice and have the same approach that I do every Thursday.”
After having the worst season of his career in 2020, Elliott’s resurgence this season has been a boon for the Eagles considering he’s under contract through 2025. He’s already made four more field goals than he did last year on just one more attempt and has been perfect on 50-plus yard attempts. He went 2-for-5 from beyond the 50 last season.
Elliott said he spent more time this offseason reviewing film of his attempts than he did in previous years. He also made an effort to shorten up his steps leading into his kicks in an effort to make his motion more repeatable even when the weather changes.
Elliott also credited some of his success to special teams quality control coach Tyler Brown, a second-generation kicking consultant whose dad, Randy, works on the Baltimore Ravens’ staff.
“It’s just been nice to be able to talk the same language,” Elliott said. “Bouncing ideas off each other. He’s obviously seen it before in years past. I know a lot of other kickers go through this, but you’re thinking of ways to get through certain things. It’s kind of, you’re the start and the end point, you think through it in your head and that’s where it ends and you try it out. But you can actually bounce ideas off him, which is nice, and he can tell you whether he likes it or not.”