Eagles

After a rough start, Eagles' faith in Miles Sanders should pay off down the stretch

After a rough start, Eagles' faith in Miles Sanders should pay off down the stretch

Remember when Miles Sanders fumbled the ball twice in a five-play span against the Lions?

That seems like an eternity ago.

On Sunday against the Bears, with the game on the line, Sanders had the last two carries of the game to set up Jake Elliott’s 38-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter of the 22-14 win. Sure, Jordan Howard was banged up by then, but the Eagles trusted Sanders in a crucial moment and he didn’t let them down.

“They drafted me for a reason,” Sanders said. “I’m coming here every day, getting better and when they call my name, I’m going to go out there and execute.”

The Eagles’ faith in Miles Sanders has already paid off and it looks like it’s going to continue to pay off.

Sure, Howard might be the bell cow runner at certain points, but the Eagles never benched Sanders when he was struggling earlier in the season. They just gave him a different role and he’s been getting better and better. In the last two wins before the bye, Sanders accounted for 191 yards from scrimmage. Only Howard has more in those two games (194).

Early in the season, we saw flashes of Sanders’ ability, but now we’re seeing more consistency from the second-round rookie.

“I think each week he's just learning from the week before,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “Just learning and watching the tape and Duce (Staley) has done a great job of coaching him up and seeing the things that he can benefit moving forward with. We're finding different ways to utilize him, whether it's in an empty package or in a backfield with Jordan or running routes.

“So I think that consistency is just coming from the more he plays and the more he's seeing himself on film and making the corrections.”

Sanders, 22, has been the most explosive piece of the Eagles’ offense through nine games. And without DeSean Jackson for possibly the rest of the season, the Eagles are going to need him to continue to rely on him as they make their playoff push coming off the bye.

Without Jackson, it seems like the Eagles are going to have to use more 12 and maybe even 21 personnel to generate offense. That means that Sanders is going to have to provide chunk plays for an offense that otherwise might not have them.

The Eagles have 12 plays of 30-plus yards this year and Sanders has accounted for seven of them (5 catches, 2 runs). Across the NFL, just Stefon Diggs (9) and D.J. Chark (8) have more. And no other player has at least two receiving and rushing like Sanders does.

It wasn’t a smooth beginning to his NFL career, but give credit to the Eagles for sticking with the rookie and to Sanders for getting better.

“I learned a lot about myself,” Sanders said. “I’m very hard on myself. I don’t think anyone is more critical on myself than me. Working with Duce, he sees a lot in me. He appreciates me coming in every day and just trying to get better, wanting to get better. Everyone else appreciates that too.”

The NFL season is a long one and, remember, Sanders had just one season at Penn State as a starter. In 2018, Sanders played in 13 games. But since then, he had to prepare for the draft and the combine, then learn a new playbook, go to minicamp and training camp and then into the season.

The rookie wall can be a real thing for some players.

“I feel good,” Sanders said heading into the week off. “Got a bye week to get my body right, my mind right and get on this next stretch.”

The Eagles are going to need him.



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Rodney McLeod explains biggest lessons learned from Malcolm Jenkins

Rodney McLeod explains biggest lessons learned from Malcolm Jenkins

Four years ago, when Rodney McLeod became a free agent for the first time in his NFL career, one of the reasons he wanted to join the Eagles was for the chance to play next to Malcolm Jenkins. 

And for the last four years, he did. The two formed a safety tandem that played 49 regular season games and four playoff games, including Super Bowl LII, together. 

But now Jenkins is back in New Orleans with the Saints and the Eagles are preparing to play without him for the first time since 2013. Meanwhile, McLeod signed a two-year deal to return to Philly. 

On a conference call with reporters on Thursday, McLeod said he learned a lot from Jenkins over the past four seasons. 

What were some of those lessons? 

Just as a competitor,” McLeod said. “And then the ability to get the most out of guys, whether it’s on the defensive side or from an entire team standpoint. I think as a leader, that’s your kind of job. How can you get guys to play at the highest level and get the most out of your players. I think he was one of the best at doing that and understanding everyone … I learned a lot from him. 

“Not just on the field but off the field, the way he handled himself and what he did in the community for the city. I’ll always admire him. It’s hard to match. But like I said, his legacy will live on. The Saints are getting a good guy. Now, us as Eagles, playing with a new group of guys and we’re ready to move forward.

There’s no question that the Eagles are going to miss Jenkins’ contributions on the field. They will use some combination of Jalen Mills and Will Parks to replace him at that position and that won’t be easy. 

But the Eagles will also miss the leadership Jenkins brought to the locker room. He wasn’t just the leader of the secondary or even just the defense; Jenkins was oftentimes the key leader for the entire team. That’s hard to replace too. 

It’s not that McLeod, 29, hasn’t been a leader during his first four years in Philly. But now that role might need to expand and will become more important with the absence of Jenkins. 

“I think it’s important for me to be myself and be who I’ve always been,” McLeod said. “And that’s a guy that leads by his actions and leads by example. I think if you ask a lot of guys on the team, that’s what they’ll tell you most. Actions sometimes speak louder than words. I think there will be times for me to speak up when needed. When my teammates need me most, I’ll be ready to do that.”

For the most part, McLeod has been the quieter of the two safeties and Jim Schwartz has previously called him the calming presence in the defensive backfield.

But McLeod can speak up too. 

It’s really just about finding a balance between his two sides and putting the lessons from Jenkins into practice in 2020. 

“Myself, being a leader on this team for some time, will of course be asked to step up as well as other guys from a defensive standpoint and on the team,” McLeod said. “I think we’re prepared for that. And guys will be willing to step up to the plate and accept the challenge. Myself first and foremost.”

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Carson Wentz’s 3rd annual AO1 softball game canceled

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AO1 Foundation

Carson Wentz’s 3rd annual AO1 softball game canceled

Carson Wentz’s AO1 Foundation has canceled its 2020 softball game that was scheduled for May 8 at Citizens Bank Park. 

The foundation says the game will return in 2021. 

The AO1 Foundation said the following in a statement: 

“We canceled the game because we are taking the COVID-19 situation very seriously. We were looking forward to an event that brings the Philadelphia community together to have fun and help others, but the health and safety of our supporters is of utmost importance to us.”

All purchased tickets will be refunded. Expect it to take 5-7 business days for that credit to appear in accounts. If there are questions about the refund process, the AO1 Foundation asks you contact the Phillies at tickets@phillies.com. 

In the first two years, this softball game has raised $1.35 million for the AO1 Foundation, which launched in 2017. Last May, there were 15,000 fans at Citizens Bank Park. 

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