Eagles May Have Veteran RB to Back Up Miles Sanders on Roster

Elijah Holyfield

Getty Former Panthers RB Elijah Holyfield — and son of boxing great Evander — was signed by the Eagles and added to the active roster.

Elijah Holyfield could be a contender, just like his heavyweight champion father.

Jokes aside, Holyfield could emerge as the primary backup behind Miles Sanders depending on how he fares this summer at Eagles’ training camp. The 5-foot-11, 217-pound bruiser is the definition of what the team is looking for as a pound-the-rock player to close out games. He could be unstoppable in goal-line and short-yardage situations.

When Philadelphia first signed Holyfield last December, the 22-year-old son of boxing legend Evander Holyfield was seen as nothing more than an insurance policy. Sanders was banged up and Jordan Howard was sidelined with a mysterious shoulder stinger. Then, Boston Scott emerged down the stretch and everyone forgot about Holyfield. He remained a healthy scratch all year, never seeing an actual snap.

“We liked him all the way back in the draft,” head coach Doug Pederson told reporters in 2019. “I actually went to a private workout with him at Georgia this past spring and was down there. We really liked the kid coming out and all-that, so obviously had our eye on that.”

Fast forward to 2020 and there’s a new opportunity. The Eagles have been tirelessly searching for a bulky veteran back to round out the depth chart. Many in the organization believe Holyfield could be that guy. According to The Inquirer‘s Jeff McLane, Holyfield should “get plenty of touches” at training camp.

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Holyfield Playing with Huge Chip on Massive Shoulders

Holyfield went undrafted in the 2019 NFL draft despite a pretty impressive highlight reel in college. He rushed for 1,340 yards in 24 games at Georgia while splitting time with Philly native D’Andre Swift. Holyfield was the bulldozer for the Bulldogs’ offense and plowed forward for seven touchdowns in his junior year before foregoing his senior year.

More importantly, the massive Holyfield (nine-inch hands, 30 3/8 inch arms, 72.5-inch wingspan) plays with a certifiable chip on his shoulder. Especially after watching 32 NFL teams pass on him. Carolina eventually gave him a chance and brought him into training camp in 2019.

“I’m always motivated, but it is a little extra motivation to come out and show people what they think I can’t do,” Holyfield told reporters on his first day at Panthers camp. “It is what it is. I’m just here to play football now. If you outwork people, you’ll always end up on top.”

One of the reasons he slipped in the draft was due to a poor NFL Scouting Combine. Holyfield ran the 40-yard dash in 4.78 seconds otherwise he may have been a Day 3 pick. Still, there is so much untapped potential in his bulky frame. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry at Georgia while putting up 26 reps on the bench press, the third-best mark among running backs at the 2019 Combine. He could easily be the thunder to Sanders’ lightning.

Make no mistake, though. Despite his imposing size and championship boxing pedigree, he is more than a tank with wheels. Holyfield has enough finesse and “shake” to make defenders miss when he’s out in open space.

“I think a lot of people think I’m just like a big, physical back (that) don’t really do much, don’t really have any shake,” Holyfield said, via 24/7 Sports. “I think I have a little finesse, I have good footwork, and I can make people miss as well.”

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