Philadelphia Eagles RB Miles Sanders looked fantastic in his first game back since Week 6. The Eagles’ bell-cow back rushed for 85 yards on 15 carries, including a highlight-reel hurdle over multiple defenders. More importantly, head coach Doug Pederson stuck with the run for long stretches despite trailing all afternoon.
It was a good sign. But Sanders has talked about his conditioning being an issue at times this year, so maybe the Eagles should be looking for running back depth. They reportedly kicked the tires on several playmakers in the offseason — guys like Carlos Hyde, Devonta Freeman, LeSean McCoy — but ultimately decided not to pull the trigger. The price wasn’t right, perhaps the style of those runners wasn’t the best fit.
Howard — often called “one-dimensional” due to his inability to make an impact in the passing game — has 28 carries for 33 yards and four touchdowns in five games this year. He’d be the perfect bruising “thunder” complement to Sanders’ electric “lightning” role. Plus, Howard is extremely cheap and his new team would only be on the hook for $712,000.
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Howard Thrived for Eagles in Limited Games
Remember, Howard was supposed to be a key contributor last year for the Eagles when they traded a conditional sixth-round pick to Chicago for his services. He rushed for 525 yards and six touchdowns in 10 games, but the plodding downhill rusher couldn’t stay healthy. He suffered a mysterious “stinger” in Week 9 and eventually lost his starting job to Sanders due to injury.
When healthy, Howard was lethal and punishing. The Pro Bowler racked up 277 yards on 66 carries (4.2 yards per rush) in a dominating four-game stretch (Weeks 6 through 9) as the team’s bell-cow. Howard wasn’t active again until Week 17 and didn’t see the field in the season finale against the New York Giants.
“When I get out there I’m not going to be scared, I’m not going to be trying to take it easy or trying to ease into it,” Howard told reporters last December, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “That’s another way to get hurt, if you’re worried about injuries. So I’m not going to worry about it.”
Eagles Not Likely to Add New Pieces
It seems extremely unlikely the team would want to add any new pieces this late in the season, but never say never, especially not with the 2020 Eagles. However, Sanders showed no signs of rust in his return to action in Week 10 and the more involved he can be in the offense, the better.
Philly also has shifty change-of-pace back Boston Scott on the roster and he broke off a nifty 56-yard scamper versus New York. Corey Clement showed he has something left in the tank on a 5-yard touchdown run in that game as well.
“If you have a playmaker like Miles, you want him on the field all the time,” running backs coach Duce Staley said, “but also Corey [Clement] and Boston, those guys know they can be plugged in at any moment.”
The Eagles also have rookie Jason Huntley (inactive against the Giants) waiting in the wings, along with veteran Elijah Holyfield down on the practice squad. They might lack household names at the position, but there is room for growth and untapped potential in the backfield.
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