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A conversation with Brian Westbrook inspires Eagles RB Miles Sanders | Early Birds

The Eagles Hall of Famer and the third-year back met at the Eagles Autism Challenge.

Eagles running back Miles Sanders catches the ball during a drill at training camp.
Eagles running back Miles Sanders catches the ball during a drill at training camp.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

Good morning, Eagles fans! We’re almost at the end of the preseason.

On Monday, the Eagles will travel to Florham Park, N.J., where they will hold a couple of joint practices with the Jets. Later in the week, the Eagles and Jets will play in the preseason finale Friday evening at MetLife Stadium. Quarterback Jalen Hurts returned to practice Sunday after he missed last Thursday’s game because of a stomach illness that forced him to visit a hospital. First-year coach Nick Sirianni was noncommittal when asked about Hurts’ status for the team’s third and final preseason contest.

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Sanders starstruck by Westbrook; Eagles raise $2.5 million at Autism Challenge

For a moment, Eagles running back Miles Sanders blacked out Saturday morning.

While participating in the Eagles Autism Challenge, a 5K run/walk charity event dedicated to raising funds for autism research and programs, Sanders bumped into Eagles Hall of Famer and former running back Brian Westbrook. Before this weekend, Sanders and Westbrook had communicated on social media, but they never had an opportunity to meet in person. Sanders found their interactions to be invaluable.

“I was excited to meet him,” Westbrook said. “That was my first time meeting him in person. He reached out to me through social media, giving his opinions and stuff. But I finally got to meet up with him in-person. I kind of stopped everything and forgot I was at the Eagles Autism Challenge.

“I just sat there and picked his brain a little bit, and what he thought about my game. He talked about taking it to the next level in the passing game. It’s all about confidence and knowing you can do whatever.”

Sanders, selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft, has rushed for 1,685 yards and nine touchdowns in two seasons. He’s also caught 78 passes for 706 yards and three touchdowns, although he didn’t record a receiving touchdown in 2020.

Westbrook’s NFL career spanned nine years, including eight seasons with the Eagles. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and finished with 6,335 yards and 41 touchdowns on the ground. He caught 442 passes for 3,941 receiving yards and 30 touchdowns.

Westbrook was one of several alumni to attend Saturday’s event, which gathered 1,800 participants. The Eagles Autism Challenge has collected $2.5 million in fund-raising in 2021. Since 2018, the event has raised more than $12 million for autism research.

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. EJ Smith’s observations from Sunday’s practice.

  2. Former GM Joe Banner tells Smith that defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon could be a rising star.

  3. What does history say about wide receiver Jalen Reagor having a breakout Year 2? David Murphy dives into the question.

  4. Jeff McLane wonders whether the Eagles should be concerned after getting blown out by the Patriots.

  5. Paul Domowitch says don’t judge the Eagles’ passing game by what you’ve seen in the first two games.