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Where does the Eagles’ Miles Sanders rank among rookie running backs? | Early Birds

Sanders has tallied 520 rushing yards and 359 receiving yards so far this season.

Eagles running back Miles Sanders runs past Dolphins defensive end Taco Charlton and defensive back Nik Needham.
Eagles running back Miles Sanders runs past Dolphins defensive end Taco Charlton and defensive back Nik Needham.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Good morning, Eagles fans. Hopefully the sting from Monday’s miserable weather and Sunday’s miserable game are starting to wear off. The Eagles are on to the New York Giants after their historically bad loss to the Miami Dolphins. It’s their first Monday night game of the season and they’ll be back at home. Doug Pederson has won three straight games on Monday night, and has gone 4-1 on the big stage in his time with the Eagles.

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How does Sanders stack up?

The Eagles made Miles Sanders the second running back selected in last April’s NFL draft, and the early returns have been good.

The versatile back out of Penn State has become the Eagles’ most consistent deep receiving threat, has been a good complementary piece in the running game and has shown flashes of being the featured back the team hopes he develops into.

Sanders has tallied 520 rushing yards and 359 receiving yards so far this season. His rushing totals are fourth highest among rookie backs, behind Oakland Raiders first-round pick Josh Jacobs, Chicago Bears third-rounder David Montgomery and Buffalo Bills third-rounder Devin Singletary. Jacobs leads the pack handily with 1,061 yards, but Sanders is still in reach of Montgomery (594) and Singletary (553).

Sanders is best-in-class in receiving yards, though, and his 1,193 all-purpose yards trail only Jacobs, who has 1,207.

With Jordan Howard missing three games with a shoulder stinger, Sanders’ time on the field has increased. He has played more than 60 offensive snaps in each of the last two games, with a career-high 63 plays against the Dolphins.

“I think I’ve been running the ball better than I have, getting better at that each week," Sanders said before the Dolphins game. "Especially with Jordan [Howard] being out, got a bigger role and a heavier load. I think the main thing, I feel like I’ve been getting better at the run game.”

He handled the lead running back duties well against Miami, having a career-best 83 yards on 17 carries, also the most he’s had this year. As a receiver, Sanders caught his second touchdown pass of the season.

On Monday against the Giants, Sanders will play in his 14th game of the season, officially making this the longest football season of his life.

Has he hit the infamous “rookie wall?" Running backs coach and former Eagle Duce Staley jokingly suggested it, Sanders said.

“Duce was trying to say I hit it [two weeks ago],” he said. “ … I don’t think I really hit the wall yet. Everybody’s talking to me, making sure I’m straight.”

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. The Eagles have given up touchdowns on trick plays for three weeks in a row now, as Les Bowen writes.

  2. There were a lot of lessons to take from the Eagles’ latest loss. Jeff McLane outlines the biggest things we learned from the game.

  3. Paul Domowitch breaks down the main reasons the Eagles weren’t able to leave Miami with a win.

  4. Carson Wentz didn’t lose the Eagles the game against the Dolphins, but he didn’t win it, either. Marcus Hayes argues the quarterback needs to develop a “clutch gene."

  5. Some fans are clamoring for a change either in personnel or in the coaching staff, but Doug Pederson said he’d be standing pat, as this wonderful young scribe writes.

  6. If you think the reaction was bad after a loss to the Dolphins, just wait until you see what happens if the Eagles lose to either the Giants or Redskins, Bob Ford writes.

From the mailbag

Looking ahead … Jenkins and McLeod will need to be replaced in the next few years. Will any of the current cornerbacks (Douglas, Mills, Maddox) be able to be quality successors? — Jay Rose, via email.

Great question, Jay. I think both Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod have several good years left. McLeod is 29 years old and has made a handful of big plays for the Eagles defense this season, including two interceptions and one forced fumble. Jenkins is 31, and is the type of player I’d expect to age gracefully. He’s probably the smartest player on the Eagles’ defense and has played at an elite level for a long time.

But, down the road, I’d say Avonte Maddox is the easiest to project to safety. He played there for the Eagles last season and has been praised by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz for his positional versatility. He has primarily played in the slot this season, but, as far as players currently on the roster go, I would say he’s the most capable to make the switch and play at a high level.