Philadelphia Eagles: Is it time to worry about Miles Sanders’ durability?

Eagles' Miles Sanders (26) leaves the medical tent with an injury Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, at Lincoln Financial Field.Sports Eagles Ravens
Eagles' Miles Sanders (26) leaves the medical tent with an injury Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, at Lincoln Financial Field.Sports Eagles Ravens /

Miles Sanders hasn’t been able to stay on the field for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Heading into 2020, Miles Sanders‘ sophomore season was one of the most exciting storylines on the Philadelphia Eagles. He had exploded onto the scene during the second half of his rookie season, and plenty of fans and analysts alike were projecting him to have a monster second season.

The Eagles did very little in terms of adding RB depth behind Sanders as well, paving the way for the Penn State alum to push for one of the best seasons we’ve seen from a Philly running back in a very long time. Sanders threw himself into the MVP conversation prior to the season beginning, compared himself to Christian McCaffery, and was a regular name at the top of fantasy drafts around the country.

Needless to say, expectations were through the roof for the former second-round pick.

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However, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Sanders during training camp. He suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain in mid August, effectively keeping him out of all team-related activities. The injury carried over to the regular season as well, causing him to miss the team’s Week 1 matchup against Washington.

The Eagles got some pretty miserable production out of their running game that afternoon, both in terms of production and pass protection. The offense definitely missed #26 during that specific loss.

Sanders returned the following week against Los Angeles, but he was still noticeably not 100%. He fumbled on the opening drive, and didn’t look as quick as he did compared to 2019.  Despite all that, he still finished the game with 23 touches, 131 total yards, and one rushing touchdown. Very good numbers.

The following weeks, however, Sanders’ lack of conditioning started to bleed through. He only saw 18 carries in Week 3, 13 carries in Week 4, and 11 carries  in Week 5. People were quick to jump on Doug Pederson for not using Sanders enough, but it was reported that Sanders was battling with “fatigue” in the second half of each game. He simply wasn’t in good enough shape to command 25-30 touches, a result of the time he missed due to his hamstring injury.

Sanders logged just 9 carries in Week 6 before leaving to injury once more. He’s missed two full games since.

Since being drafted, Sanders has now suffered three separate injuries that have forced him to miss significant time. Outside of the two before mentioned injuries, he also hurt his ankle during the team’s division-clinching win over New York in 2019, leaving the game as Boston Scott came in to save the day.

Sanders is undoubtedly a serious weapon when on the field, but his recent slew of injuries puts a serous damper on the idea of him being a traditional “three-down back”. The team was rumored to have had serious interest in RB JK Dobbins during this past draft, and that’s a decision that has context behind it. Adding another starting-caliber RB to the roster could help Sanders stay on the field more, as he wouldn’t be responsible for so many carries.

Next. The Philadelphia Eagles could really use a guy like Robby Anderson. dark

People may view this as a “knock” on Sanders, but it’s just the brutal reality. Running backs tend to have a short shelf life, and there’s nothing wrong with employing a “RB by committee” type approach to things. Standout rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire was looking like the second coming of Brian Westbrook for Andy Reid, and yet he still jumped at the idea of adding Le’Veon Bell. Not only did that make the Chiefs offense better, but it also helps to keep both CEH and Bell on the field for all 16 games.