Eagles' Nick Sirianni explains Miles Sanders' role when he returns

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Nick Sirianni explains Miles Sanders' role when he returns originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Nick Sirianni said Miles Sanders may play Sunday and will be the Eagles’ starting running back when he’s healthy but said Jordan Howard and Boston Scott will continue to have a role in the offense when Sanders does return.

Sanders remains on Injured Reserve with the ankle injury he suffered in the Raiders game on Oct. 24, but after missing three games, Sanders is eligible to play, and the Eagles opened his practice window Monday.

Sirianni said if Sanders has a good week of practice, he’ll play against the Saints Sunday at the Linc.

“He’s going to go through practice and (we’ll) see how he looks,” Sirianni said Wednesday. “We want to make sure that he’s healthy and ready to go. That’s just going to be an ongoing thing throughout the week and I’ll have more answers for you on Friday with that, but just want to get him out there and see how he looks pretty much (Thursday) and Friday. He’s one of our better players. He’s definitely going to go if he’s healthy.”

The Eagles are holding a walkthrough on Wednesday and full padded practices on Thursday and Friday.

Sanders has started 26 of the last 27 games he’s played, and Sirianni said that won’t change despite Scott and Howard’s production.

Sirianni said he doesn’t have an all-encompassing policy about injured players getting their job back when they’re healthy.

“I know how good a player Miles Sanders is and look forward to getting him back in there and getting him carries,” he said. “If Miles is healthy and ready to go, he’s our starter. But that doesn’t mean that every situation equals the same thing because every situation has different circumstances and different thought processes behind it.

Although he was used sparingly, Sanders averaged 4.8 yards on 63 carries before he got hurt. 

In his absence, the Eagles morphed into a run-first team, with Howard and Scott – neither of whom had a carry before Sanders got hurt – sharing the workload.

In games against the Lions, Chargers and Broncos, Howard ran 41 times for 211 yards (5.1 average) and three touchdowns, and Scott ran 33 times for 181 yards (5.5 average) with two touchdowns.

Overall, the Eagles are 3rd in the NFL with 144 rushing yards per game and 4th with 5.0 yards per carry. They lead the NFL with 94 rushing 1st downs, and they’re 4th with 14 rushing touchdowns.

They lead the NFL with 42 rushing attempts per game over the last three weeks, so there are plenty of carries to go around.

“When you have some guys that have been running the ball well, that’s a good problem to have and it speaks to the depth that we have here in the running back room in particular, so great job by Howie and his staff getting the players in here and having depth because we know it’s a long season, it’s a 17-game season,” Sirianni said. 

“You’re going to have some bumps and bruises along the way and so it’s important that the guys that step in for the starters are ready to go and I think Jordan and Boston and Kenny (Gainwell) have done a good job stepping in and filling that role in Miles’ absence.”Including Jalen Hurts, the Eagles have four of the top 20 rushers in the league in terms of yards per carry: Hurts is 5th at 5.6, Howard 14th at 5.2, Scott 15th at 5.1 and Sanders 19th at 4.8.

Sanders has 2,809 scrimmage yards in 35 career games. He reached 2,500 scrimmage yards in 29 games, fastest in Eagles history.

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