July 30, 2022
There was a mild controversy at Eagles training camp on Friday. Miles Sanders looked absent from first-team offensive reps, as the fourth-year running back worked with the second team. Those first-team running backs reps mostly went to Boston Scott with second-year player Kenny Gainwell in the mix too.
That got the Birds' media circuit wondering if something was up with the team's depth chart. During his Saturday morning presser, head coach Nick Sirianni emphatically shut down any concern over whether Sanders is the Birds' lead back.
"I don't know where that came from. Our backs rotate," Sirianni said. "Those first three backs, Kenny and Miles and Boston, they rotate three plays in and out for the first two sessions of the period. The period is split into three areas. One, two, threes. And those three guys rotate that area. Miles is our guy."
"Miles is our guy," Sirianni later reiterated. "So there's no secret. Miles is our guy and we like to rotate our backs."
Sanders spoke to the media after Saturday's practice. It was no surprise what the topic was.
"It is what it is. If they really watch it, they'll see that everybody rotates," Sanders said, clearly aware of the conversation that was happening about his spot in the running back hierarchy. Sanders clarified that he received second-team reps during last year's camp too, Sirianni's first in Philly. Sanders missed time with injury later in the season, but was unquestionably the team's RB1 even with those second-team summer reps.
When asked about his motivation for this upcoming season, Sanders said, "To get the respect that I finally deserve." With a reporter following up about what that would look like, Sanders replied, "[To] stop writing articles about me being on the second team." It caused a laugh in the media scrum, but there was certainly a seriousness in what Sanders was saying too.
Sanders has had a bit of bad luck with injuries during his time with the Birds. He's equally showcased the ability to be an absolutely electric runner as a home-run threat and has also had costly mistakes with drops and fumbles. He was the Eagles' primary running back early in the 2021 season when the Eagles had a pass-heavy focus. After a midseason injury, the Birds switched to a run-focused attack, one that saw them using Scott, Gainwell and veteran Jordan Howard with record-breaking success. Sanders returned from injury and remained an effective runner, but it was reasonable to wonder heading into this offseason whether the team would view Sanders as a true No. 1 back or as a key cog in a strong rotation. As of right now, the Eagles are making it known it's the former.
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