Eagles 2022 season: Miles Sanders on list of most important players

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Entering contract year, Sanders lands on list of most important Eagles originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2022 season.

25. Quez Watkins
24. Gardner Minshew
23. T.J. Edwards
22. Marcus Epps
21. Landon Dickerson
20. Jake Elliott
19. Brandon Graham
18. Jordan Davis
17. Kyzir White
16. Avonte Maddox 
15. Nakobe Dean
14. Fletcher Cox
13. James Bradberry
12. Miles Sanders

This is an important year for Miles Sanders.

The 25-year-old running back has had some great moments in the NFL and has been a productive running back when healthy. But he’s really struggled to stay on the field.

Just last season, Sanders missed several games because of injury and in the last two seasons, he’s missed nine total regular season games. So as he enters a contract season, there’s a lot of money on the line.

That’s the bad news about Sanders: He hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

But the good news about Sanders is that he’s been a productive runner when he’s out there. In 2021, he had 137 carries for 754 yards, a career-high average of 5.5 yards per attempt, up from his 5.3 YPC average in 2020.

Among running backs with 100+ carries in 2021, just one averaged more yards per carry: Rashaad Penny (6.3). And the other players who also averaged 5.5 were Tony Pollard, Nick Chubb and Jonathan Taylor. That’s good company.

Over the last two years, among players with 150+ carries, Sanders’ YPC average of 5.4 is second in the NFL behind Chubb (5.6) and just ahead of Taylor (5.3).

Still, Sanders was not happy with his 2021 season.

“Just the type of year I had last year, I wasn’t anywhere near satisfied how I played or my availability too,” he said this spring. “All that stuff means a lot to me, so just being the top guy in the running back room, I’ve just got to hold a standard and just keep going with that standard, and that’s being healthy and being able to produce. I didn’t like the way the season went personally for me.”

The Eagles really shifted toward a heavy running attack about halfway through last season, but they did it out of necessity. They want to be better passing the football in 2022 and the addition of A.J. Brown ought to help them get there. But that doesn’t mean they are going to abandon the run. And when they do need to run, Sanders is still the top guy in that rotation.

Could the Eagles get by for a game or two with Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell? Sure. But their best option is still a healthy Sanders.

There’s a chance the Eagles will try to give Sanders an extension during the season like they did with members of the 2018 draft class last year. It might not be easy to figure out how much Sanders is worth, but they view him as a guy they’d like to keep around.

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