Eagles

Miles Sanders finally returns to practice with only one goal in mind

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USA Today Images

Miles Sanders finally returns to practice with only one goal in mind

What was most disappointing for Miles Sanders when he missed OTAs wasn’t falling behind mentally or falling behind physically.

It was wasting an opportunity to impress his teammates.

Sanders, the rookie running back from Penn State, returned to practice Thursday at the start of training camp after missing virtually all of spring practice with a significant hamstring injury.

It’s tough for anybody to miss that much time but especially a rookie. 

Sanders said he’s almost back where he needs to be with his conditioning and said he never fell behind mentally because he stayed in his playbook over the summer.

But Thursday was his first chance to do what he really wants to do.

Show he belongs.

Prove he belongs.

It was really tough missing that much time just because my whole goal for the offseason was to impress the vets, and I didn’t get a chance to really do that,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of stars on the team. Offense is stacked, defense is stacked, whole team is really stacked, and it’s full of vets, so it’s just my determination to make sure that I’m not just here like, ‘Made it,’ and that I’m going to work every day to get better. … Just trying to prove to the vets that I belong on this team. That’s really my only goal right now.

That’s a heck of a smart way for a 22-year-old kid to approach rookie training camp. 

Veterans are notoriously difficult to impress, and this roster has 39 players in at least their fifth season and 34 players who were on the Super Bowl team.

Training camp is all about “Show me,” and that process began for Sanders on Thursday.

He said he’s not concerned where he fits in or how many reps he gets or where he sits on the depth chart.

“All you can do is focus on today and when the next day comes focus on that day and try not to worry about it,” he said.

On Thursday, Sanders found himself behind Jordan Howard on the depth chart, which is no surprise considering Howard is a former Pro Bowler who averaged 1,120 rushing yards and eight TDs in three seasons with the Bears.

With Howard, Super Bowl hero Corey Clement, 2018 Eagles rushing leader Josh Howard, three-year vet Wendell Smallwood and of course Darren Sproles, it’s a crowded running back room.

It’s really competitive,” he said. “For me, I’ve been in a talented running back room since high school. In college with Saquon (Barkley) and the rest of the running backs, and now it’s even more talented. It’s just really competitive and we hold ourselves to a high standard and making sure we get better every day.

The challenge for Sanders is to string together day after day after day.

That’s the only way he’ll move up the depth chart and earn playing time.

He got off to a nice start Thursday in a low-key 10-10-10 practice at the NovaCare Complex, showing good shiftiness and burst when he had the ball.

After practice, he spent some time catching balls from the JUGS machine and he said he’s very confident in his receiving ability, even though he only caught 32 passes in college.

Soon the pads will go on, the preseason games will start and the real challenge will begin for Sanders.

For now, it’s all about learning every day and finding his way in the NFL on a team with tremendous expectations.

And impressing all his older, more experienced teammates every chance he gets.

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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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