Miles Sanders has been big-play hunting so far this season, and he’s about to get even more opportunities.
The rookie running back is taking over the role of kick returner Sunday against the Detroit Lions, with Corey Clement nursing a shoulder injury.
Much has been made this week of Sanders’ tendency to bounce runs outside in search for big plays instead of running through the holes the offensive line has tried to create. He’s averaging just 2.5 yards per carry with 21 rushing attempts.
Sanders said the coaching staff, specifically running backs coach Duce Staley, have reminded him to use his vision more and be less determined to make a big play on every carry.
“It’s not just hitting the hole, it’s reading the defender,” Sanders said. “Duce simply told me, ‘It’s the NFL. You’re not going to have a big play each run, so just take what they give you.' ”
After Clement got hurt returning the second-half kickoff in Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Sanders went in to return kicks. Atlanta tends to kick the ball short of the end zone, forcing a return. Sanders had two returns for 52 total yards.
Sanders returned 33 kicks as a Penn State freshman, averaging 20.8 yards per return. He averaged 15.2 yards on five returns his sophomore year before passing on the role in his junior season altogether.
“I look forward to it. It’s just another opportunity to affect the game in a positive way,” Sanders said. “I bring speed, my vision. The types of returns that we have [are] set up for us to really get some explosive returns, so I’m going to do my job and get us the best field position possible.”
Quarterback Nate Sudfeld was a full participant in practice this week but is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
Sudfeld has been recovering from a broken left wrist sustained in the preseason opener against Tennessee. The injury led to Josh McCown being lured out of retirement to serve as Carson Wentz’s backup.
His status will likely be a moot point. When asked last Friday who would be the No. 2 once Sudfeld was fully healthy, Pederson said the Eagles would “cross that bridge” when they got to it.
McCown played well when he relieved Wentz for six plays against the Falcons. He completed three of his five passes for 24 yards on a drive that eventually led to a field goal to close out the first half.