Forget Explosion, Eagles Need the Mundane with Miles Sanders
PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles should be getting some reinforcements back Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.
Running back Miles Sanders (hamstring) and right tackle Lane Johnson (ankle), along with defensive end Derek Barnett (hamstring), all wore pads at practice Wednesday and took part in the portion open to the media which includes individual drills.
All three were listed as full participants when the session was finished.
Also prized free-agent acquisition Javon Hargrave (strained pec/hamstring) took part in individual drills for the first time since training camp began and was limited, as was left tackle Jason Peters (knee).
Finally, defensive end Brandon Graham was at practice wearing his jersey but didn’t participate in drills and remains in the concussion protocol, according to coach Doug Pederson.
The most notable absences were receiver DeSean Jackson and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who had planned days off according to the team.
Johnson told reporter Derrick Gunn that he plans to play against the Rams and SI EagleMaven noted that Sanders was likely to go after more of a precautionary sit against the Washingon Football Team in the season-opener, something ESPN's Adam Schefter echoed Wednesday.
Anything can happen between Wednesday and Sunday, especially when it comes to soft-tissue injuries but the Eagles badly need Sanders back, not for his explosiveness as a playmaker but just the more mundane aspects of the job.
Without Sanders against the WFT, the Eagles' RBs - Boston Scott, Corey Clement, and Jason Huntley, combined for 16 carries on 55 yards and their pass protection was not up to snuff, a key part of why Carson Wentz was sacked eight times.
"Pass protection, a lot of these backs coming from college football are not asked to do, they are asked to protect, but they are not asked to protect or they don't see the types of defenses that we see on a daily basis and the schemes and the different calls and all of that," said Pederson.
Sanders was in that same boat as a rookie last season but steadily progressed in pass-pro and more than anything else showed a want-to when it came to picking up the blitz.
He wasn't Emmitt Smith during his prime stoning linebackers in their tracks but the Eagles will settle for competency after what went on against Washington.
"Miles really improved all of last season, so, he's got to get back in there," Pederson said. "He's definitely missed obviously some practice time, so it's going to take a little bit for him to get his eyes back seeing what he needs to see, listening to the protection calls from [C Jason] Kelce or [QB] Carson [Wentz], and go from there.
"But having his ability to pass protect obviously helps the whole unit."
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Friday on SIRIUSXM and every Monday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SportsMap Radio. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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