The Eagles held an open practice at the Linc on Sunday. A lot of fans in attendance noted a specific detail about Head Coach Nick Sirianni. He was wearing one of his player-themed shirts. This time, it featured Kenny Gainwell, the teams second-year running back. This seems like unfortunate timing as far as the media is concerned.
Miles Sanders Second Team?
A week or so ago, news broke from camp that Miles Sanders was getting second-team reps. Social Media obviously went into a bit of a frenzy. Sanders was the teams second round pick in 2019 and has had 3 productive years, but with little growth. The first team back had become Kenny Gainwell. Gainwell was selected in the 5th round in 2021 out of Memphis. In his rookie campaign the team used him primarily as a pass-catching back. He ran for nearly 300 yards and caught over 250 yards. In fans minds, he was an incredibly versatile depth piece that was very important to the team. Gainwell is also a bit of a Deebo Samuel breed, meaning that he could play wideout and run from the backfield.
While confirming the reports, Sanders had this to say in a presser afterwards, “Stop writing articles about me being second team” and also said “it is what it is.” Coach Sirianni put somewhat of an end to the conversation as well saying “There is no secret, Miles is our guy… we like to rotate our backs.” As for Gainwell, he hasn’t been asked about the topic and has not said anything.
We all expected Sanders to be the far-and-away #1 back on the team, but that seems to be coming apart at the seams. Last night at the open practice, an unconfirmed fan report said that Gainwell got 9 touches before Sanders even saw the field.
So for my fantasy people, Gainwell could be a higher upside pick than Sanders. Sanders is a disappointing pickup nearly every year and has seen the most second-team reps in camp of his career. Gainwell, however, is a very high upside pick. He is reportedly included in most goal line plays and he is a above average pass catcher out of the backfield. Even last year he posted 90 fantasy points which, considering the touches he got, that is very good. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gainwell be a top-10 running back in some PPR drafts.
For the Eagles fans, don’t worry. both Gainwell and Sanders are very good options. Personally, I would expect to see Sanders on early downs to pound the rock, and Gainwell on later downs. Sanders could open the season getting fewer touches, but I have confidence in his ability and I think it’s likely that he’ll have another 800 yard season or so. We’ll just have to wait and see on September 11th.