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PHILADELPHIA — Not long after selecting Penn State’s Miles Sanders in the second round of the NFL draft last week, Philadelphia Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman strolled to the podium and playfully declared:

“Guess what, guys? We got a running back! We draft running backs in Philadelphia.”

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He is well aware of the perception that had built up over time — that the Eagles, under Roseman’s stewardship, do not put a high value on the running back position. The Eagles had not selected a back higher than the fourth round since 2009, when they took LeSean McCoy in the second.

A decade later, the streak has come to an end, and with some odd symmetry attached to it. Sanders, like McCoy, hails from Western Pennsylvania. There are similarities in their games, most notably in their lateral quickness. And both were taken by Philly with the No. 53 overall pick. Roseman noted that Sanders “reminded us of some other players we’ve had around here.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen LeSean McCoy come through Philly and put on,” Sanders said. “He did great for the Eagles, but I’m looking forward to doing even better.”

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While he has a long way to go before he gets into that conversation, Sanders will have a chance to make an instant impact in Philadelphia, and he should help elevate the Eagles’ run game along with free-agent addition Jordan Howard.

Philly finished 28th in rushing yards last season (1,570) and was second from the bottom in yards per attempt (3.9). The Eagles’ leading individual rusher, rookie Josh Adams, ranked 41st in the NFL in rushing yards (511). The lack of production on the ground had a ripple effect, impairing an offense that dipped statistically across the board in 2018.

The Eagles addressed the need by trading for Howard, the league’s third-leading rusher since he entered the NFL in 2016, before taking Sanders in the draft.

The trick for coach Doug Pederson and running backs coach Duce Staley will be figuring out how to best deploy a backfield that also includes Super Bowl standout Corey Clement. The Eagles believe Sanders has the ability to be a three-down back, though he was used somewhat sparingly as a receiver in college and needs to improve in pass protection. There will be a feeling-out process while the coaches get a sense for exactly what they’re working with.

One thing they know is that both have experience handling a shared workload. Sanders needed patience as Saquon Barkley got the lion’s share of the work when they were together at PSU, while Howard was paired with Tarik Cohen in Chicago.
“I’m used to rotating. I’m not a selfish player,” Sanders said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help this team win. High school, I split reps with another great running back. Penn State was kind of the same thing. I’m ready. I’m willing to do whatever, as far as special teams or splitting reps, it doesn’t matter. I’m ready to do whatever to help this team win a championship.”

Both could end up having solid statistical seasons, with Howard (nine rushing TDs in each of the past two seasons) getting plenty of goal-line work and Sanders having the ability to take over as the lead back eventually.

It will take some time until their roles fully crystallize, but the potential is there for Sanders and Howard to do some damage together almost right away, lifting the offense up in the process.

“We are always trying to look for complementary guys on our roster, but by the same token, Miles is a guy, he can play all three downs. Jordan has got better hands than maybe advertised,” Roseman said. “But you have these guys that can do different things, and for Coach, he’s looking for guys who have different skill sets, so he can provide different looks to the defense, and it’s a matchup league. That’s what we are looking to provide our coaching staff, guys who can win one-on-one matchups and who can play in specific situations so there’s not a play that he can’t call because he doesn’t have the right skill set there.”

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It has been over three months since Super Bowl LII, and Lane Johnson’s trash-talking of the New England Patriots is still going strong.

The Philadelphia Eagles right tackle took more shots during a recent appearance on Steve Austin’s podcast and revealed where some of the ill will stems from.


Eagles’ Johnson blasts Pats as ‘fear-based’ club
Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson doesn’t want to follow the Patriot Way, calling New England a “fear-based organization” and saying he’d rather have fun and win one Super Bowl than be miserable while winning five.

Johnson: Eagles want to beat ‘pretty boy’ Brady
Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson said the team’s mission in the Super Bowl is to beat “pretty boy” Tom Brady and “dethrone” the Patriots.
“Here’s what pissed me off,” Johnson said. “The Patriots, obviously, I respect their coach, I respect Bill [Belichick], I respect Tom Brady, but just because the way that they won the Super Bowls, the Patriot Way, is that how everybody else is supposed to do the same thing? No, it’s not. And that’s what I got mad at, the arrogance by them.

“There was obviously some stuff behind closed doors. Their owner talking s— to our owner. Bill talking s— to our head coach [Doug Pederson] before the game. I’m not going to say it, but a lot of s— kind (of) built up to that, and I just got tired of hearing about it, man, to be honest.”

Johnson has not been shy about sharing his feelings on the Patriots. Following the Eagles’ win over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, Johnson immediately turned his sights to New England, calling Brady a “pretty boy” and saying “there’s nothing I’d like to do more than dethrone that guy.”

After the Super Bowl, he described the Patriots as a “fear-based organization” with players who “act like f—ing robots.” He doubled down on that assessment when asked about the mystery surrounding Belichick’s decision not to play cornerback Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl.

“That’s the thing, you’re never going to know,” Johnson said. “Whatever they’re told to do in the media is what they’re told to do. Like I said, they’re robots.”

The Eagles defeated the Patriots 41-33 to claim their first Lombardi trophy.

“I saw a [Patriots] defense that wasn’t overly talented. It was all really about containing Tom Brady,” Johnson said on the Austin podcast. “We had a hard time doing that — he had 505 yards. But that was really it, man. Going into the game, I’m not going to be shell-shocked by it. That was kind of our thing going in. I think we had the upper hand on that.”