Miles Sanders evolving into running back the Eagles expected
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (26) runs with the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Miles Sanders evolving into running back the Eagles expected

When the Eagles selected Miles Sanders in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, he was expected to become a lead back. The Penn State product showed impressive flashes early, but he dealt with injuries and inconsistency over his first three seasons.

Sanders has made a statement this season with his play, and is proving capable of being an every-down back. 

Following his 80-yard performance in a Week 2 win over the Vikings, Sanders ranks seventh in the NFL in rushing yards with 176 yards. In Week 1, he scored a TD after scoring none in 2021. 

Ninety-three of Sanders' rushing yards, 52.8 percent of his rushing yards, have come after contact. If he maintains that figure, it would be a career-high for the 25-year-old. In 2021, that figure was 37.5 percent. 

While his ability to juke and cut is part of what makes him special, Sanders' embrace of a more hard-nosed running style is a positive. His tendency to dance with the ball behind the line of scrimmage had limited his production in the past. 

The Eagles' offensive line is at its best when on the move and getting to the second level. Sanders is embracing this as well and reaping the benefits and plaudits from teammates. 

Opportunities exist for the others in the backfield, too. Running backs Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell are effective in change-of-pace roles. QB Jalen Hurts, who has rushed for 146 yards, also will play a major role in the running game. Hurts led the Eagles in rushing last season with 784. (Sanders only played in 12 games in 2021, rushing for 754 yards.)

In Week 3 against the Commanders, Sanders could get his first 100-yard rushing game of the season.  Washington's defense is porous against the run, allowing 314 yards and 7.5 yards per carry over two games.

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