Miles Sanders, who hadn’t practiced since getting hurt in the preseason opener against the Jets, returned to practice Thursday and is on target to play in the season opener a week from Sunday.
Sanders played eight snaps Aug. 12 against the Jets but was listed on the Eagles’ injury report when they returned to practice two days later with “leg soreness” and didn’t practice. When the next injury report was issued on Aug. 16, the leg soreness had morphed into a hamstring injury.
The Eagles were holding a short hour-long practice at the NovaCare Complex on Thursday, their last session until a walkthrough on Monday. Their next full practice is scheduled for Tuesday and they open the regular season a week from Sunday in Detroit against the Lions.
Sanders was out for nearly three weeks and missed nine practices, three walkthroughs and the last two preseason games.
The Eagles have been optimistic that Sanders would return healthy in time for the opener all along, and when they released Jason Huntley on Tuesday and kept only three running backs on the 53-man roster — Sanders, Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott — it seemed clear that Sanders was on track to play in Detroit.
Because of Sanders’ extensive injury history, the Eagles wanted to wait as long as possible to get Sanders back on the field while still giving him enough work before the regular season begins.
Sanders has missed eight games with various injuries over the past two years and has been limited or left early in several other games.
But when, he’s healthy Sanders is one of the NFL’s most effective runners. His 5.1 career average is eighth-highest among running backs with at least 500 carries in NFL history, and he’s one of only six players in NFL history to start his career with three straight seasons of 750 rushing yards and at least a 4.6 average.
Sanders has averaged 5.3 and 5.5 yards per carry the last two seasons. He’s one of only five backs in NFL history to average 5.3 yards per carry or higher twice before his 25th birthday. The others are Jamaal Charles, Clinton Portis, Jim Brown and Dan Towler.
Sanders returned one day after center Jason Kelce returned three weeks after undergoing surgery to repair an elbow injury.
Still out for the Eagles are cornerback Josh Jobe (elbow), defensive back Josiah Scott (hamstring) and edge rusher Derek Barnett (ribs). Jobe and Scott have both been out since Aug. 24, Barnett has been out since Aug. 25.
Also, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, who’s been out since Aug. 7 with a groin injury, was outside at practice and working out on a side field. His status for the opener remains unknown.
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