Injury Update: Sanders Hamstrung – Again
Birds RB Remains Out, Team Being "Precautious"
The lower-leg injuries that have dogged Miles Sanders throughout his career have resurfaced early.
Sanders on Friday missed another practice, the second of two joint practices against the Browns, with a hamstring injury.
Head coach Nick Sirianni said the team is being “precautious” with the fourth-year running back but also wouldn’t put a timetable on the Penn State product’s return, adding that Sanders is dealing with “tightness and sorenesss.”
Sanders, cornerback James Bradberry and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave are among Eagles starters who remained sidelined, along with center Jason Kelce, who underwent elbow surgery and isn’t expected to return until the season opener.
Sirianni typically doesn’t give return timetables and continued that trend.
Sanders is in the final year of his contract, but any speculation that the Eagles are planning to phase Sanders out of the offense seemed to be countered by Sirianni, who not only said Sanders would be the starter when healthy but also referred to backup running back Kenneth Gainwell as a third-down back.
Sirianni noted a strong rep from Gainwell in pass protection Thursday during the first joint practice against Cleveland and emphasize the importance of protection and blitz pick-up for third-down running backs while still discussing Gainwell.
In better injury news, rookie tight end Grant Calcaterra came out with his helmet for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury just a few days into training camp.
The seventh-round pick from Southern Methodist, who’s competing for the No. 3 tight end job, will be eased back into practice, Sirianni said.
“He’s got a little bit of work coming to him today,” Sirianni said. “We’re excited to have him back ad working. He’s missed a lot of time. That’s why we’re out there today, to get him back up to speed.”
Calcaterra is mainly competing with Noah Togiai and veteran Richard Rodgers for the final tight end spot unless the Eagles decide to keep two tight ends on the final 53 and use the practice squad to deepen the position.
An interesting answer from Sirianni when asked about his safety group, which is clearly behind the other groups on defense in terms of talent and depth.
Sirianni said the group is led by “Marcus Epps … and then you have pieces to work with.” It’s notable that he mentioned Epps as the leader instead of veteran Anthony Harris, who was re-signed to a 1-year deal this offseason after signing a 1-year deal last offseason.
Epps, a fourth-year pro in his third season with the Eagles, is clearly the team’s best coverage safety but has started just eight career games. But Harris has 61 starts in his eight seasons, the first six with the Vikings.
It was assumed that Epps and Harris would be the starters when the season opens but the Eagles signed veteran Jaquiski Tartt a few weeks before camp and this week acquired safety Ugo Adami from Seattle in exchange for wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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