After a week of uncertainty, running back Miles Sanders wants to make it abundantly clear to anyone wondering about his status for Sunday's NFC Wild Card playoff game against Seattle that, yes, he's playing. He's ready. The ankle injury he suffered last Sunday in the win over the Giants has healed enough to have him ready for his postseason debut.
"It feels pretty good," Sanders said on Friday after a post-practice massage. "I had a chance to run around on it a little bit and it feels pretty good. It gave me a lot of confidence for Sunday. I'm excited to get out there and play. I'll be straight. I'll be ready."
Having Sanders gives the Eagles a full complement of backs, and now the question is how the Eagles will employ them in the offense against a fast and aggressive Seattle front seven that excels in covering sideline to sideline. Will Sanders return to the lineup as the go-to running back who led all NFL rookies with 1,641 all-purpose yards and 1,327 yards from scrimmage? Will the Eagles use more of Boston Scott, the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week? How will Jordan Howard fit into the picture now that he's had one game – and one snap from scrimmage – under his belt after missing six weeks with a shoulder injury? Is Elijah Holyfield, added to the 53-man roster from the Carolina practice squad, part of the picture after being with the team only for a few days?
That's the beauty of the Eagles' backfield situation, one that has been altered significantly by injury during the course of the season.
Heading into 2019, the Eagles expected Howard to take most of the carries after acquiring him in a trade from Chicago in March. It quickly became apparent that Sanders was a talent ready to contribute, so the two basically split the work, with some Darren Sproles sprinkled in, until the bye week.
But with Howard out after suffering a shoulder injury in a Week 9 win over Chicago, Sanders took over the primary duties the remainder of the regular season and excelled. So did Scott, who was promoted to the active roster after spending five games on the practice squad. Scott stepped in and contributed as a running back and receiver, doing what Sproles had done throughout his brilliant NFL career.
Now the Eagles have a three-headed backfield situation that will provide different looks to the Seattle defense.
"We have a lot of guys who can help us," Sanders said. "I don't know what the plan is, but I'm going to be out there. It will be a regular day for me. I feel like it's going to be electric. Like Dallas, but probably more. There's a lot on the line and we're home, so I'm excited.
"I still have two more days to get ready, so I'm going to be even better than I am now."
Sanders had 12 carries for 63 yards and three receptions for 23 yards in the November 24 game against Seattle, a game in which the Eagles turned the ball over five times in a 17-9 loss. He said the Seahawks have "a very talented group" with a big front four and smart, instinctive linebackers.
"I feel like as long as we take care of the ball and execute, we'll come out on top," Sanders said.
It will help if Sanders is at full speed, if he is able to cut and get up the field as he's done, particularly in the second half of his rookie season. At his best, Sanders is designed for postseason success. He's ready for his first taste on Sunday.
"I'll be ready. I'm excited," he said. "This is what it's all about. This is why we're playing."