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December 29, 2019

Did Miles Sanders' injury ruin his bid for Rookie of the Year?

Eagles NFL
840922_Eagles_Lions_Miles_Sanders_Kate_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders.

The Eagles have not boasted a Rookie of the Year since 1973 — when Charle Young, a three-time Pro Bowl tight end in four seasons with Philly won the award.

But that's it. They haven't had one since on either side of the football.

And after the first few weeks of the 2019 NFL season, it didn't look like that streak had much of a chance of ending. But just as second round pick Miles Sanders has taught himself when to hesitate and when to attack with the football at the NFL level, his seemingly stagnant rookie campaign has been boosted to one of the best in the league.

As recently as three weeks ago, Sanders had a 70-1 chance of beating out Kyler Murray, Josh Jacobs and AJ Brown for offensive Rookie of the Years. Before kickoff Sunday, Sanders' chances were 12-1 (according to Bovada).

But then a first-half injury against the Giants likely hurt those chances — not to mention the Eagles' chances to win the all-important game.

The Eagles (and back up running back Boston Scott) rallied to win the NFC East by beating the Giants 34-17 Sunday and Sanders, who did not return, ended his rookie year with 818 yards on the ground (52 of them in Week 17) on 179 carries in addition to 518 receiving yards on 50 receptions. He combined for six total touchdowns.

A lot of his consistent production came as the season progressed, as he was positively dominant in key situations in Weeks 15 and 16, spurring Eagles must-win efforts with Jordan Howard — the team's opening day starter — sidelined with a shoulder injury.

"It doesn't surprise me," Doug Pederson said a week ago, after the rookie gained 172 total yards in addition to two touchdowns. "That's why we drafted him obviously, for these types of games and performances. He seems to get a little bit stronger and a little bit better each week. He had another good performance tonight."

"Miles is really kind of coming into his own now as a young player and really helping us offensively."

Sanders already has the Eagles' rookie record for all-purpose yards, and will still end the year leading all rookies in yards from scrimmage:

Miles Sanders8185181,3366
Josh Jacobs1,0501661,2167
A.J. Brown60927*1,1118
 David Montgomery889 185  1,0746 
 Devin Singletary 775 194969 4
Terry McLauren 09199197

*Brown was currently playing for the Titans during the publication of this article.

Sanders still does have an outside chance at the award, but his health and availability for a possible Eagles playoff game is the bigger concern. Without Howard able to contribute (he didn't in the first half Sunday), practice squad promotee Scott is the only healthy running back now on the roster — but he's a Philly legend now after scoring three touchdowns in the epic must-win in Week 17.

Brooks went down with a first-half injury as well, further hindering a run game that already did not have Lane Johnson or Zach Ertz helping block in Week 17.

Here's an update on Brooks:

More information on Brooks' as well as Sanders' long term status (for their playoff game next weekend) likely won't be revealed until Pederson's Monday afternoon press conference.

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