Eagles

Eagles' Miles Sanders, Giants' Saquon Barkley looking forward to matchups in 2019

Eagles' Miles Sanders, Giants' Saquon Barkley looking forward to matchups in 2019

A few minutes before his conference call with Philadelphia reporters after getting drafted by the Eagles, Miles Sanders took a pretty special congratulatory phone call from a former teammate.

Saquon Barkley hit him up. 

“He called me probably just a couple minutes ago,” Sanders said around 10:30 on Friday night. “Just saying congrats and stuff. He’s looking forward to that two-game matchup each year and I told him I’m looking forward to it too.” 

Not only was Barkley one of Sanders’ teammates at Penn State, he was the reason Sanders spent so much time on the bench during his first two college seasons. Barkley was a superstar at Penn State and became the No. 2 overall pick to the Giants a year ago, which meant Sanders had to wait his turn. 

Now, the two friends and former teammates will get to face each other twice per season for at least the next few years for their respective NFC East foes. They’re good friends, but a little competitive too. 

Check that. 

“Very competitive,” Sanders said. “He called me and the first thing we really talked about were those two games each year. I can’t wait. Same division and everything.”

While it would be unfair to compare Sanders to Barkley, who is widely considered a generational talent, Sanders certainly held his own in 2018, when he finally took over as Penn State’s lead running back. In his junior season, Sanders rushed for over 1,200 yards with nine touchdowns and added another 139 yards as a receiver. 

The Eagles fell in love with him during the pre-draft process and they entered Day 2 hoping Sanders would still be available when they took him at 53. Sanders had a lengthy visit to the NovaCare Complex in March and during it spent around 1-2 hours with Duce Staley, who put him through a few tests that Sanders apparently passed with flying colors. 

Sanders is the first running back the Eagles have taken in the second round since LeSean McCoy back in 2009. Coincidentally, McCoy was also taken with the 53rd pick in his respective year. Sanders saw Shady do great things with the Eagles, “But I’m looking forward to doing even better.” That would be a pretty high bar. McCoy is the Eagles’ all-time leading rusher. 

We still have months before Sanders’ rookie season begins. And he won’t get to those two matchups against Barkley and the Giants until even later in the season. 

• Dec. 9 on Monday Night Football at the Linc 

• Dec. 29 at MetLife Stadium in the 2019 regular-season finale 

Barkley is coming off a rookie season in which he was named a Pro Bowler and the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year. That’s another extremely high bar for Sanders to try to clear. 

After saying how competitive he and Barkley are, a reporter asked Sanders, “So you’re better than him?” 

Sanders started to laugh. The reporters in the room joined him. 

“We’ll see,” he said. “It’s definitely …”

And then the call cut out.  

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5-year-old Eagles impersonator gets Boston Scott's stamp of approval

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USA Today Sports Images/@SirRobin83/Twitter

5-year-old Eagles impersonator gets Boston Scott's stamp of approval

With professional sports on pause around the world, fans are looking for anything - video games, simulations, classic games - to satisfy that live sports itch.

We may have found the ultimate placeholder: a five-year-old imitating Boston Scott's infamous spin-o-rama.

On Saturday afternoon, Twitter user Robin Stanley tagged Scott in a quick video of his son, Beckett, pretending to be the Eagles running back:

I mean, c'mon: the likeness to Scott's spin move against the Giants is kind of uncanny.

In case you need to jog your memory, here is Scott's spin:

Scott, of course, made fun of himself for the move at the time, admitting that when he saw the clip after the game, it "looked pretty silly".

I'd say Beckett's spin had a little more swag.

Stanley's dad, a Philly native, told NBC Sports Philadelphia his son was expecting to play his first season of flag football this spring down in Nashville, but the league was postponed because of social distancing mandates, so he's making do.

On Saturday, Scott saw Stanley's video and gave the little man a nod of approval:

That's just good, clean fun. Thank you, Beckett, for the sports-related smile.

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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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