Eagles’ Miles Sanders Explains Why He Has ‘Bigger Chip’ on Shoulder

Getty Eagles RB Miles Sanders

Regrets? Miles Sanders had a few coming off his record-setting rookie campaign in Philadelphia.

The second-year running back out of Penn State told reporters on Sunday that he was disappointed about not winning Rookie of the Year. Sanders felt he “could have been in the conversation” and he’ll use that as motivation as he steps into the feature back role for the Eagles this year.

“Definitely wanted to win Rookie of the Year, definitely thought I could have been in the conversation for Rookie of the Year,” Sanders said. “But that just puts a bigger chip on my shoulder but I don’t really think about it too much. That was last year. I play with a big chip on my shoulder and that’s what I use to motivate myself.”

The Eagles could have signed a veteran rusher — and were rumored to be in talks with several guys — but they ultimately decided not to. They are making Sanders the workhorse in Doug Pederson’s “Super Bowl” offense. The 23-year-old feels confident about taking the next step in his development.

Sanders said he has been watching a lot of tape from 2019 and felt a need to get physically stronger. His main goal is to break more tackles and he hit the gym hard in the offseason to pack on some muscle. Sanders doesn’t want to be known strictly as a speed guy.

“Looking at my film, honestly, I just wanted to get stronger, both upper body and lower body-wise,” Sanders said. “I want to break more tackles and get a little bit more [yards] on the ground. Just watching film from last year … I left almost 300, 220 yards, on the ground. I could have had a 1,000-yard season.”

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Taking Inventory of Sanders’ Record-Setting Year

Sanders actually left 182 yards on the ground after finishing with 818 rushing yards on 179 carries (4.6 yards per touch). However, his 1,641 all-purpose yards led all NFL rookies and ranked eighth in the league. He also broke DeSean Jackson’s record for most yards from scrimmage for a first-year player in Philly, plus LeSean McCoy’s franchise rookie record for rushing yards.

“When you break records, for guys like DeSean Jackson and Shady, I think that’s pretty big, too,” Sanders said. “I’m proud of myself for doing that because those are two great players, be in the Hall of Fame sooner or later.”

He now enters Year 2 as a veteran voice in the running backs room, a title that Sanders himself finds hard to comprehend. The Eagles are counting on a young group to carry the load in 2020, with Sanders and 25-year-old Boston Scott being thrust into leadership roles.

“It’s making us mature faster and knowing that we’re really the only two backs who played last year and now we have younger guys in the room, plus Corey [Clement],” Sanders said. “Sky’s the limit for this group.”

Speaking of Clement, don’t count out the fourth-year back for Comeback Player of the Year honors.

“Corey looks explosive,” Sanders said. “He looks like Super Bowl Corey to me.”


Looking to Connect with Arian Foster

Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks had promised to connect Sanders with Arian Foster, Brooks’ former teammate in Houston. While Sanders and Foster have yet to chat, it’s a conversation in the works and one the Eagles running back is looking forward to.

“I can say he’s one of the running backs I watched when he was in the league,” Sanders said of Foster. “He’s great at that stretch play and he’s good at catching the ball out of the backfield. He’s really just a smooth runner, reminds me of a little bit of LeVeon [Bell], like how LeVeon is now — and I’m looking forward to picking his brain.”

Those are the small things that leaders do, to improve their own game while paying respect to those who came before them. Sanders has been promised a larger role on offense and he’s embracing it by doing whatever he can to help the Eagles win a championship.

“I’m just excited to help this team win whether it’s on the ground or in the air,” Sanders said. “I approached it [the offseason] like I am the guy. Making sure I’m coming back stronger, faster, and smarter.”

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