To some that served as a late-July eyebrow raise that perhaps second-year back Kenny Gainwell was gaining ground on Sanders for the RB1 role some September, a sentiment Nick Sirianni shot down on a couple of occasions on Saturday.
“Miles is our guy,” the head coach said pre-practice. “… There is no secret. Miles is our guy, and we like to rotate our backs. But he’s the guy.”
To further impress the point, the first play in team drills was Sanders getting the football and racing around the left side for a big-gainer that might have been a home run in a more competitive circumstance.
One assistant screamed “That’s the way to start a drill 2-6,” and Sirianni has some fun with the reporters watching.
“He’s running with the ones, he’s running with the ones, he’s a starter,” the coach playfully yelled.
The plan for the Eagles at RB hasn’t changed with Sanders penciled in as the lead back, Gainwell, a naturally gifted receiver, handling much of the third-down and hurry-up work, and Boston Scott serving as a nice insurance policy at a position where the clock is always ticking on a bump or a bruise.
Sanders, though, is in the final year of his rookie deal so speculation on his future is natural and maybe even prudent from GM Howie Roseman’s perspective. For the coaches, though, Sanders remains their best option they have which is why Sirianni went to such great lengths to shut down any perceived controversy.
“Our backs rotate. Those first three backs, Kenny, Miles, and Boston, they rotate three plays in and out for the first two sessions of the period,” the coach explained. “… Whether it was the way the reps worked out (Friday). It just so happened to be the way the numbers worked.”
Already sporting a chip on his shoulder about his upcoming second contract, Sanders took the questions over his status with the offense personally.
“Who made that article?” Sanders asked rhetorically. “If you’re really watching, you’ll see that everybody rotates.”
To be fair the rotation has seemed to pick up this year over last when Gainwell was a rookie and Scott wasn’t a known commodity to Sirianni and his offensive coaching staff.
From a player’s perspective, though, if you can use perceived disrespect — even if it’s unfounded — why not?
“Just get the respect I finally deserve,” Sanders said when asked about his goals this season. “Stop making articles about me being on second team.”
Sanders has been pretty consistent this offseason in realizing that staying healthy is the No. 1 goal after missing a total of nine games over the past two seasons. His body is noticeably more powerful looking in an effort to fend off nagging injuries.
“I’m really just trying to take care of my body, even when I don’t have injuries staying in the training room, preventing injuries all year round instead of just going in there when I have nicks and bruises,” he said. “So, staying in there when I don’t have injuries and doing preventive stuff.”
If Sanders is out there for 17 games, the numbers will be there and perceptions will begin to shift back to where they were after his impressive rookie season.
“I got goals, but I don’t want to speak about them,” said Sanders before admitting to the main one. “To be available. Availability is the best ability, that’s all. … I’m just going to do whatever I can to help the team win.”
— JAKIB Sports (@JAKIBSports) July 30, 2022