The Philadelphia Eagles avoid placing Miles Sanders on IR

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Miles Sanders is a darn good running back.

Arguably the best back to be featured in the Philadelphia Eagles‘ offense since the team issued number 25 jerseys, Sanders can cut on a dime, has deceptive power, and can even make plays in the passing game, assuming he actually receives enough targets to do some damage.

After some initial speculation over how he would fit back into Nick Sirianni‘s offense following a midseason stint in IR, Sanders burst back onto the scene in a big way, picking up an average of 102.3 yards on the ground from Week 11-14. Despite only surpassing 20 carries in one game, Sanders firmly established himself as the Eagles’ premier rushing option, which is really saying something, considering how often Jalen Hurts would rip off a quick run earlier in the season.

So naturally, when Sanders left the Eagles’ Week 16 game with an apparent hand injury, it deflated quite a bit of air out of what otherwise should have been a commanding victory. When news broke that Sanders’ hand was, well, broken, and that he would undergo an MRI to further evaluate the damage, it took the remaining air out of the room and left many a Philly fan wondering who would run the ball in the final two weeks of the season, let alone the playoffs.

Unfortunate? Totally, but hidden in all the doom and gloom was the lone bright spot that should lift the spirits of more than a few Philadelphia Eagles fans: Miles Sanders isn’t heading to IR.

Miles Sanders may still see the field for the Philadelphia Eagles.

How important are two hands to a running back?

I know that sounds like a goofy question, but it’s one worthy of consideration.

On one, well, hand, running backs are taught to secure the ball with two hands since childhood. While a rusher can certainly get away with a one-handed run from time to time, anything less opens one up to getting Peanut Tillman‘d, which is the quickest way to see a running back’s snaps decrease from week to week. Hands are also important for catching the ball, which, again, can happen with one hand, or even a hand to a helmet – just ask David Tyree – but is a whole lot easier to do when you have two, especially for a running back like Miles Sanders who has a bit of a reputation for dropping easy passes.

On the other hand, the hand Sanders broke is his right hand, which is a bad hand to break, considering he’s right-handed. If Sanders were to return to the field in Week 19 for a road playoff game, he’d surely have his hand either heavily taped up or in a cast to avoid further injury, which would force him to either hold the ball in his left hand or secure it against a foreign object without a glove or fingers to help secure possession.

Has a running back ever played a game with a casted hand? Yes, it has happened from time to time, including with Austin Ekler in 2017, but in the NFL, where teams usually run three-to-four running backs deep in any given game, coaches typically opt to roll with another player instead of entering a game with a limited contributor.

In Week 17 and even 18, that’s probably what the Eagels will opt to do as well, as Sanders is already ruled out for the team’s regular season series finale against Washington, but if Jordan Howard’s stinger persists into the postseason, that could change in a hurry.

Even if he can’t ultimately go, it’s still better to have Sanders on the active roster than IR.

Next. Philadelphia Eagles First-Round Mock Draft: Week 17 Edition. dark

Look, if Miles Sanders could take the field in Week 17, he certainly would. The former Nittany Lion released an incredibly frustrated statement the day after the team’s win over New York and vowed to bounce back from his unfortunate setback. If that happens in the Philadelphia Eagles’ Week 19 playoff bout, great, but if not, it’s safe to say it won’t be because of a lack of trying.