Jordan Howard has positioned himself as the Philadelphia Eagles‘ lead running back heading into a critical stretch of the 2019 season, coach Doug Pederson confirmed Monday.

“It’s kind of going that way,” Pederson said, when asked if he expects Howard to get a higher percentage of carries over rookie Miles Sanders moving forward. “I can’t sit here and tell you if Miles has a hot hand one day that he gets more touches, but right now, that’s kind of the trend.”

Howard, 24, has come on strong of late, rushing for 149 yards on 28 carries (5.3 YPC) over the past two games with four total touchdowns (three rushing). He is averaging 4.7 yards per carry on the season with four rushing TDs, compared to 3.6 yards per attempt and zero TDs for Sanders. Unsurprisingly, Howard’s play time has increased in turn, cutting into Sanders’ workload.

The further the season goes along, the more evidence there is to support what the players’ respective strengths are. Sanders has been inconsistent as a runner to this point but has been effective as a receiver (10 catches, 133 yards) and in pass protection, while Howard’s north-south running style is syncing well with the Eagles’ top-end offensive line.

“First of all, it’s a good mix with those two guys,” Pederson said. “You’re seeing Miles in the passing game be a little more explosive with some of the down-the-field throws with him. And with Jordan, he’s kind of the guy that you kind of settle down in the run game and give him those touches. He’s a between-the-tackles guy. He’s big and powerful, has good vision. And I really think Miles is learning from Jordan running ball, which is a positive. As we go, Jordan has been kind of the lead back the last couple games for sure, but Miles is learning and coming [along] and I’m really happy with both of them.”

The backfield roles are becoming more defined at a time when the Eagles need to account for the loss of Darren Sproles, who is “week-to-week” with a quad strain. It makes sense to have Sanders as the third down/complementary back and absorb some of the snaps that Sproles was getting, while allowing Howard to be the primary ball carrier.

That’s not to say this will become the show. The Eagles, who are averaging 111.8 rushing yards per game, remain high on Sanders and favor a running back rotation over having a workhorse. As Pederson suggested, plans can change in-game based on who is having the most success.

But as the Eagles get set for a three-game road swing through Minnesota, Dallas and Buffalo that could define their season, the plan is to have Howard leading the way on the ground.


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