Arkansas junior running back and 2022 first-team All-SEC pick Raheim Sanders has been out the past three weeks with a knee injury he suffered in the season opener against Western Carolina in Little Rock. Sanders is one of the top running back prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Will Sanders return this week against Texas A&M for his first game action in nearly a month? We have the latest injury updates.
Raheim Sanders Injury Update
Update: Sanders started against Texas A&M, proving healthy enough to rejoin the Razorbacks’ offense.
Sanders, 6’2″, 242, was a 2022 first-team All-SEC pick who produced 1,443 yards and 10 scores on the ground last year but has been unable to live up to expectations this season. With only 15 carries for 42 yards in his season debut, “Rocket” Sanders has been anything but.
Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman was elusive about the injury, saying he’d miss only one or two games with a knee issue. But that was almost one month ago.
“So Rocket has an injury that it’s going to take a couple of weeks for him to heal. But that’s the length of it. Maybe two, maybe three weeks. So he won’t be able to play this Saturday and possibly next Saturday. We’re not positive about that. But it’s not going to linger any further than maybe a couple games.”
Sanders didn’t even make the trip with the team to LSU last week, which would have been a natural time for him to return as the competition ramped up for Arkansas. Now, it’s fair to wonder whether he’d play against Texas A&M in Dallas for the Southwest Classic.
The good news is that Sanders practiced last week before the team faced LSU. Pittman wouldn’t say he’s a lock to play, but confidence is growing that he’ll at least have a role against the Aggies.
“As confident as I’ve been since the Western Carolina game,” Pittman said. “I would be lying to you if I told you that I’m sure he’s going to play. I feel better about his opportunity to play, but we still have to see how he recovers from yesterday’s limited reps that he participated in and go from there.
“This week, I thought he was farther ahead on Monday than what I thought he would be. It didn’t swell up too bad on it yesterday. We’ll give him a little less reps today and then see where he’s at on Thursday. But we’re obviously hoping he can play.”
Sanders’ draft stock could use a boost that can only come with him returning to the field and playing well. He recently took a drop in PFN’s 2024 NFL Draft running back rankings and could slide further if he doesn’t play well.
The 2024 class is deep with similarly talented backs who aren’t dealing with a troublesome knee.
Though Sanders is undoubtedly a unique prospect due to his size and straight-line speed, tall backs come with their own set of risks for injury.
Derrick Henry is the most recent back who has carved out a highly successful NFL career despite defying traditional concerns about his high-cut build. Sanders is hoping to become the next iteration of Henry.
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