Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni declared Miles Sanders confident going into Sunday’s wild-card playoff game. The explosive running back has no restrictions when he takes back the starting job. Both Jordan Howard and Boston Scott were also absent last injury report.
That means the team should have their full range of running backs against the running backs Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It remains to be seen whether Kenny Gainwell and Jason Huntley will become active. Neither has an injury designation, but the Eagles likely won’t carry more than four rushers. Philadelphia brings the NFL’s best rushing attack — 2,715 yards, or 200.2 yards per game — into the postseason.
“Really excited to be able to have all hands on deck,” Sirianni said about his running backs. “I was just telling the team after practice what a great input we’ve had from so many different people this year and I was really talking about the running back group. What other team can say that they got input from four different running backs, and Jason Huntley played a really good game the other day, so five different running backs, right?”
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It wasn’t all positive vibes in South Philly after Friday practice. Defensive end Josh Sweat missed his third straight day with an undisclosed non-COVID illness. The fourth-year edge rusher is officially listed as a questionable against Tampa Bay. Sweat has filled the pass-rushing void left by Brandon Graham and his 7.5 sacks are tied for the team lead with Javon Hargrave.
Meanwhile, starting right Nate Herbig was also listed as questionable in the latest injury report after missing Friday’s practice session with an ankle injury. Herbig must have suffered a setback because he was only a limited participant on Wednesday and Thursday. If he can’t leave, look for Sua Opeta, who takes his place alongside Lane Johnson on the right side of the offensive line.
Johnson (rest/knee) was a limited participant on Friday. Ditto for rookie linebacker Patrick Johnson (rear). These two guys are expected to play against Tampa Bay. Everyone else has one clean health certificate go into the off-season.
Sanders broke his right hand on December 26 against the New York Giants. He could have gone into IR at the end of the season and started rehab for next season, but that wasn’t his mindset. Instead, the talented running back underwent minor surgery on Dec. 27 in hopes he could return for the playoffs. It was part of a promise he had made to Sirianni.
“I said, ‘Promise me the playoffs and I’ll have surgery tomorrow,’ and he [Sirianni] said, ‘I got you,’ and I think the week came and we got the dub in Washington.” Sanders to reporters. “And he said, ‘I hope you’ve had the surgery,’ and I said, ‘I’ve already had it.’ Win or not just to give me a chance [to play].”
Sanders declared himself “ready to go” on Friday. Explain the battery of tests he endured. Coaches slapped the football as he ran, forcing him to catch passes from the backfield. His surgically repaired hand also held up throughout all ball safety drills as he took hand-offs from Jalen hurts and pressed the football with no problem.
“They kind of asked me what I wanted to do this week, and I told them I wanted to do anything,” Sanders said. “I feel ready to go.”