December 3, 2023

Miles Sanders out Sunday with broken hand, Eagles hopeful he’ll return this year


Photo by Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Miles Sanders, who broke his hand on Sunday against the New York Giants, is out for the Eagles’ critical game this Sunday against Washington, head coach Nick Sirianni said.

But the team does not plan to place him on Injured Reserve, and Sirianni said he’s hopeful Sanders can return at some point this year.

The Eagles face Washington at FedEx Field Sunday and then finish the regular season against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9. If they reach the playoffs, they would play a road wild-card game the weekend of January 15-17.

“Miles did break his hand,” Sirianni said. “Obviously, he’ll be out this week, and then we’ll re-evaluate after a week. We’re hopeful we can get him back at some point this season, so he will not be going to IR.”

This is the latest in a long series of setbacks for Sanders, who missed the 2020 opener with a hamstring injury, missed two games last year with a sprained knee, and missed the season finale with a sore knee. This year, he missed three games with an ankle injury. He’s missed all or most of 11 of 31 games over the last two years.

Meanwhile, Sanders’ backup, Jordan Howard, hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday as he deals with a neck stinger he suffered Sunday.

“The MRI came back good,” Sirianni said. “We’re hopeful. I’m not going to put any timetables on anybody, but we’re hopeful for Jordan.”

Howard’s 2019 season ended with a neck stringer, and he didn’t play regularly again until the middle of this year.

Sanders ranks third among all NFL running backs with at least 100 carries with a 5.5 average, which if he doesn’t play again would be the highest by an Eagles running back since Steve Van Buren averaged 5.8 yards per carry in 1945.

Howard, who spent the first seven weeks of the season on the practice squad, has rushed 75 times for 380 yards for a 5.1 average with three touchdowns. He missed the first Giants game and the New York Jets match with a knee injury. 

If the Eagles are without Sanders and Howard Sunday, Boston Scott becomes the lead back. Scott has 73 carries for 326 yards and a 4.5 average with five touchdowns, including one Sunday against the Giants. 

“Boston is a guy that every time he’s called upon, has came through and we have no doubt that he’ll be able to do the same thing this week when called upon,” Sirianni said. “It’s great to be able to have that type of depth. We’ve got a good group of backs. We’ve got four backs that I think a lot of teams would like to have. … If there’s an injury, we seamlessly don’t miss a beat when the next guy comes in. 

“Credit to Howie (Roseman) and his staff for building that depth and great credit to Boston knowing that he can make those plays and just being there and stepping in when he’s called upon. 

“I know Boston wants even more opportunities and he deserves more opportunities but we’re just a really deep group at running back, but when his number is called, which it will be more and more this week, I’ve got no doubt that he’ll come through.”

Rookie Kenny Gainwell would be the second back if Sanders and Howard are both out. Gainwell has a 3.8 average on 55 carries for 209 yards but has rushed for four touchdowns and also has 29 catches for 244 yards and another TD.

Even though their streak of games with at least 175 rushing yards ended Sunday at seven, one short of the NFL record, the Eagles still ran for 130 yards, and they still lead the NFL with 163 rushing yards per game.

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