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Eagles coach Nick Sirianni hints at what Miles Sanders’ role will look like | Early Birds

Sanders' preseason workload could be a harbinger of things to come.

Eagles running back Miles Sanders participates in a training-camp drill.
Eagles running back Miles Sanders participates in a training-camp drill.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Good morning, Eagles fans! Happy Friday. It’s an especially happy Friday considering it’s an Eagles game day as well. The Birds will conclude their preseason Friday night against the New York Jets and spend the next two weeks practicing in anticipation of the regular-season opener Sept. 12 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Don’t expect to see the starters in game action Friday night. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said he’d determine if the starters need the in-game work after reviewing the quality of reps the group got during joint practices against the Jets this week. According to an NFL Network report, Sirianni liked what he saw enough to rest his starters yet again. Sirianni also discussed his plans for Miles Sanders and the rest of the Eagles’ backfield rotation.

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Running for Miles

Miles Sanders’ preseason workload could be a harbinger of things to come.

Assuming he doesn’t play in the preseason finale, Sanders will finish the string of exhibition games with just two carries for 13 yards. He was one of the only healthy scratches in the preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers and got very limited work the following week against the New England Patriots.

Sanders was obviously a big part of the Eagles’ first-team offense during the joint practices each of the last two weeks, but the sparse game exposure, the team hopes, will keep him fresh during what might be the busiest season of his career to date.

Sanders’ career high in carries came in 2019 when he had 179 rushing attempts. There was an expectation last year that he’d log 200-plus carries as the team’s featured back, but he battled injuries early in the year and played for a team that abandoned the run often because of early deficits.

Former Eagles coach Doug Pederson gravitated more toward a running-back-by-committee approach for most of his time with the team, but Sirianni has more of a track record of leaning on his starting running back. During Sirianni’s three years as the Colts’ offensive coordinator, a running back logged at least 190 carries each season. Pederson never had a back surpass 190 attempts during his five years leading the Eagles.

Asked about his approach to the running-back rotation on Thursday, Sirianni said he likes to sub backs in either for passing situations or to keep Sanders from getting tired.

“I’ve obviously been impressed with Miles’ ability,” Sirianni said. “I think he’s a very talented back. Excited about the things he’s going to be able to do this year for our team. As far as that goes, we just like to keep guys fresh. If Miles needs a break, we’ll have a guy in there to sub him. Then also, too, with our passing game, there are definitely things Miles can do, but we also have some other backs, like with Kenny [Gainwell], rotate in, and Boston [Scott] is doing a good job of that as well.”

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. Cut-down day is looming large. Paul Domowitch predicts which players will secure a spot on the 53-man roster and which players won’t.

  2. With starters expected to sit for the preseason finale, Josh Tolentino explains how the team approached the joint practices this week to prepare for the regular season.

  3. Not every team is taking such a conservative approach to the preseason finale. Marcus Hayes says Sirianni should ignore Howie Roseman’s emphasis on rest and give his starters some playing time.

  4. Thursday marked the final training-camp practice of the summer. Be sure to read Jeff McLane’s observations from the joint practice, including a fiery moment from Kenny Gainwell.

  5. Wondering which Eagles will make good fantasy players? KC Joyner breaks down the value of Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smith, and several other Eagles.