The last regular-season game for the Philadelphia Eagles was much like the rest of their year — disappointing. Despite their upsetting performance against the Washington Football Team, 2021 began on a positive note when running back Miles Sanders was added to the Pro Bowl roster earlier this week.
Sanders, who has only played in the NFL for two years, will see his first professional Bowl thanks to a fan vote.
MADE IN HAPPY VALLEY
Sanders attended Penn State University (We Are!) but started his collegiate career in teammate Saquon Barkley’s shadow. He saw limited playing time his freshman year, making his first college start as a sophomore; however, he still only carried the ball six more times than the previous season.
Barkley left for the NFL one year early, giving Sanders Penn State’s starting running back position. He quickly proved he was just as good as his predecessor. Sanders finished No. 2 in the Big Ten and No. 15 in the nation with 1,274 rushing yards. With 98 rushing yards per game and nine rushing touchdowns, he ranked fourth and seventh, respectively, in the conference.
Sanders also declared for the NFL one year early, forgoing his senior year.
EXCELLING IN PHILADELPHIA
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Sanders in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He made his NFL debut in Week 1 and quickly showed Philly he was here to play. In Week 15, he passed LeSean McCoy for the most rushing yards by a rookie and surpassed DeSean Jackson for the most all-purpose yards by a rookie in franchise history.
He finished the season with 818 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, 509 receiving yards, and three receiving touchdowns, leading all first-year players in total yards. Sanders also joined former teammate Barkley as the only rookies with at least 800 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards since 2000.
Injuries hit the Eagles hard in 2020, and they didn’t spare Miles Sanders. He missed the first game of the season for a hamstring injury, returning in Week 2. He later endured an ankle injury and finished the season with 867 rushing yards, 197 receiving yards, and six touchdowns in 12 games.
Sanders did not play in Philadelphia’s last season game against Washington to avoid further injury for next season.
A NOVEL PRO BOWL
Due to the ongoing pandemic that completely transformed the NFL this year, the Pro Bowl, which was initially supposed to be played on January 31, will not be live. Instead, it will go virtual in Madden NFL 21.
In providing an innovative experience, the NFL allowed fans to vote for roster additions, and Sanders proved to be a fan favorite. He earned one of the final two roster spots alongside Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Sanders took to Instagram, stating, “Thank you to all the fans who joined the #Madden21 challenge to vote me to the Pro Bowl roster. I couldn’t have wanted it any other way than my fans to play a role in my first Pro Bowl experience.”
Sanders is now the only former Nittany Lion who has secured a Pro Bowl roster spot, as injuries have impacted contenders Saquon Barkley and Chris Godwin. He will join Philadelphia teammates Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce, and Brandon Graham.
Following the virtual Pro Bowl experience, Sanders is eager to get back to the field. He stated, “I’m not gonna say how good I’ve played or anything. I really just like to talk about the stuff I need to work on. I’m far from where I want to be.”
The now 23-year-old has become an integral part of the Philadelphia Eagles and has two remaining years left on his contract.