What does an offense do when they’re all out of healthy receivers? Throw to the tight ends and running backs. That figures to be the Philadelphia Eagles’ gameplan this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, especially if injuries to Desean Jackson, Alshon Jeffrey, and company continue to hold those guys out. That means guys like RB Miles Sanders will have to pick up the work in the passing game. Speaking to local reporters, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick talked about his potential impact as a receiver.
“Sanders, he’s a great running back,” Fitzpatrick told reporters via the team website. “Great running the ball but he’s also a threat [as a receiver]. Sometimes they motion out. Line him up as a number one, receiver, get mismatches on him when linebacker. Send him vertical. Make him run slants and stuff. Once he’s outside of the backfield, he’s definitely receiving threat. He’s a very talented guy. He can catch the ball.”
Sanders hasn’t been used much as a receiver this season, catching just nine passes in the three games he’s played, but caught 50 balls as a rookie. In 2019, he averaged over 10 yards per reception. That was the third highest average of any running back, only trailing David Johnson and Austin Ekeler. Sanders also had as many receiving touchdowns – 3 of them – as he did rushing scores.
Fitzpatrick was asked if Sanders was similar to the Giants’ Saquon Barkley.
“Similar qualities to Saquon. Both of them are dual threat guys as running backs. I say he’s definitely receiving threat. Got to know where he is. Definitely similar to 26 in New York.”
Pittsburgh did well to bottle Barkley up as a runner in the season opener but Barkley made an impact as a receiver, catching six passes for 60 yards. Josh Carney and I will have a full breakdown of the Eagles’ offense for the morning, breaking down all their potential receiver threats and the schemes they run to get those guys open.