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Miles Sanders Hopes to Play Against Jets

The Eagles RB1 is dealing with a nagging ankle injury

PHILADELPHIA - Miles Sanders plans to play Sunday against the New York Jets, a positive development for Nick Sirianni and Co. because the RB1's backups, Jordan Howard and Boston Scott, were absent from practice on Thursday.

Both Sanders (ankle) and Howard (sprained knee) are dealing with injuries while Scott has been working through a non-COVID 19 illness.

Sanders missed three games with an ankle injury after being injured at Las Vegas on Oct. 24 before returning for the New Orleans game on Nov. 21. He then aggravated the injury this past Sunday in a 13-7 setback to the New York Giants.

"Tweaked it a little, again," Sanders said on Thursday. "I had the ankle injury that had me out for three weeks. I made a play, hurt it on that play, and tried to go back in later in the game. It just wasn’t feeling right. I couldn’t keep it solid.

"I feel good [now]. Just trying to keep it getting better every day, and try to get ready for Sunday."

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While Sanders plans on playing against the Jets, he did admit that the bye week after the game had to be considered when trying to get his ankle right for the intra-division stretch run, which features a home-and-home series against the Washington Football Team as well as home contests against the Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

"I’m definitely thinking about the bye week, but not trying to," he said. "Just trying to focus on New York right now. If I can play vs. New York, I’m going to play, and then I’ll worry about the bye week after that. If I can play, I’m going to play."

And that's the key here. 

While Sanders plans on playing and may be needed because it seems unlikely now that Howard will be able to return from his sprained knee, there is certainly no guarantee Sanders will be able to finish the game if he does start.

"It’s just day-to-day, but I feel good, so I’ll be practicing today," said Sanders. "Hopefully, I’ll be playing. ... It’s weird because I tried to go back in [against the Giants], but I couldn’t. Right now, it’s doing different stuff treatment-wise, to make it feel better."

Since playing in all 16 games as a rookie in 2019 Sanders has missed seven games over the past two seasons, including the three in 2021.

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"These last few seasons have been a little frustrating," Sanders said. "But I’m not trying to let it dwell on me or anything. It’s a long season. If I let that affect me, then I won’t be playing to the best of my ability. When stuff like this happens, I try to get back as soon as possible and get right back to it."

The Eagles have rushed for 200-or-more yards in four of their past five games and now lead the NFL with 157.9 yards per game on the ground.

"I don’t think it’s anything scheme-wise that we’re doing differently. I don’t think it’s scheme-wise," Sanders said of the team's running success. "I literally just think it’s our O-line, and our O-line is ridiculous.

"They just move and replace people like it’s nothing. They love running the ball. If that’s what they want to do, then we’re going to ride right behind them. Of course, we love when we run the ball, too. If nobody hasn’t stopped it, especially going against No. 1 defenses in these 5 weeks, then we’re going to keep doing it."

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In other injury news Thursday, All-Pro center Jason Kelce watched practice but the adjustments in the session point to the veteran playing against the Jets.

In Kelce’s absence, it was Brett Toth working with the first team at center. 

If the Eagles were concerned Kelce was in danger of halting his consecutive starting streak at 117, they would have been ramping up to make sure Nate Herbig was ready to go at the position with Sua Opeta likely getting the first-team work at right guard in place of Jack Driscoll, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve with an ankle injury earlier this week.

By inserting Toth as the placeholder in the pivot, that left Herbig free to take the reps at RG.

Receiver DeVonta Smith (illness) also returned to practice on Thursday.

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.