After he suffered a fractured hand in the win over the New York Giants on December 26, running back Miles Sanders had a favor to ask of his head coach.
"Promise me playoffs and I'll get this surgery tomorrow," Sanders said to Nick Sirianni.
Sirianni vividly recalled the exchange.
"He was in my office," Sirianni said. "He said, 'Just promise me we're going to the playoffs. We're going, right?'"
Sirianni preaches the importance of getting better every single day, focusing on the present, but he could feel the determination emanating from his running back.
"I kind of said, 'OK, promise. I promise you right there,'" Sirianni said.
Sanders didn't need the reassurance as he was confident that the Eagles would handle their business without him. Sanders underwent surgery the day after the Giants game. Sure enough, the Eagles beat Washington the following week and clinched a playoff spot later that night.
On Sunday, Sanders will suit up for Sunday's Wild Card Round matchup against the Buccaneers with "no limitations," according to Sirianni.
"Miles is obviously a phenomenal player and a phenomenal talent," Sirianni said. "Even better teammate. Even better person. Even better worker, which is why he's got the talent and the skill that he does."
This will be Sanders' second playoff appearance. He rushed for 69 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and had three receptions in the Wild Card Round loss to Seattle at the end of his rookie season of 2019. Hungry for another shot at the postseason, Sanders did everything in his power to be ready for the opportunity. He credited the team's doctors and training staff for helping put him in this position.
After rushing for 754 yards in 12 games (a career-best 5.5 yards per carry), Sanders said that his legs are "super fresh" with the added rest. Sanders indicated that his teammates noticed the bounce in his legs as well. Sanders practiced fully on Friday and increased his participation each day to prepare his hand for contact.
"I know what's at stake. I know I just had surgery. I know it's a broken hand, but what matters is trying to be available for my team and I'm healthy enough to go out there and perform at a high level," Sanders said. "That's all that matters."
Sanders had just one fumble all season. Even with all of the running backs who contributed to the franchise rushing record total of 2,715 yards this season ready to go, Sirianni declared that Sanders will "be our guy" on Sunday.
"Miles has done such a good job of getting better at protecting the football, and he's just better with his fundamentals as our year has gone on. I have a ton of confidence in that," Sirianni added.
"At the end of the day, Miles would not be on the field unless he was ready to go for this game and healthy to go for this game. It's just about the fundamentals of what we've preached all year. Then being confident that he's ready to go because the doctors, the trainers, they are saying that he's ready to go, and Miles feels ready to go."