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LeSean McCoy Still Not Satisfied

Posted Dec 23, 2014

Lincoln Financial Field was frigid, winds swirling. It was second down, with 7 yards to go, on the Eagles’ own 32-yard line. LeSean McCoy took the ball off tackle, ran to the right side of the field and gained 4 yards. When he stood up from the tackle, it was third down, with 3 yards to go. It was the 87th regular season game of his career, his 1,406th carry as a Philadelphia Eagle. It could have been overlooked as just another play.

But with that 4-yard run on December 7, 2014, LeSean McCoy became the most prolific running back in Eagles history. On Tuesday, McCoy was named to the Pro Bowl for the second-straight season and third time in his career.

He surpassed legendary Eagles Hall of Fame running back Wilbert Montgomery, who rushed for 6,538 yards in eight seasons with the team. McCoy now has 6,605 yards and counting in nearly six seasons. Montgomery once held the franchise record for most rushing yards in a single season as well. McCoy broke that record last year when he led the league with 1,607 yards rushing.

After McCoy sliced and diced opposing defenses for the better part of six seasons, it was only a matter of time until he notched his 6,539th yard.

McCoy’s talent on the field is widely acknowledged. His control over his own momentum, able to start and stop on a dime, makes him a nightmare to tackle in the open field. The way the Harrisburg, Pa., native accelerates from a near crawl, patiently waiting behind blocks before exploding for a first down, is a result of his natural talent. McCoy was born with abilities very few people will ever possess.

“What you notice is different is that he makes the guys who are unblocked miss tackles,” center Jason Kelce explained of the All-Pro running back’s talents. “He turns 6- or 7-yard carries into 20-yard carries. He makes the average, unique.”

McCoy’s cutback abilities are so exacting, his moves so dominant, that he was able to rattle off 217 yards against the Lions last season, setting a single-game franchise record in eight inches of snow during the Snow Bowl game on December 8, 2013. The heavy precipitation that day made it nearly impossible to hold on to the ball for the majority of the players, as evidenced by Detroit’s seven fumbles on the afternoon.

But McCoy? Nothing was stopping him. Not when there were yards to be had and touchdowns to be scored.

“Him running in the snow, seeing him be able to still juke and spin and shake like that?” nose tackle Bennie Logan recounted, still incredulous a year later. “It was something fantastic.”

Logan said he remembers one play the most, the play that sticks out in the minds of Eagles fans everywhere. Trudging through the snow on a run to the left, McCoy shifted his path and decided to jump over a low-diving Lions defender. Sticking the landing, the industrious running back finished the play in the end zone, one of his two rushing touchdowns in that iconic quarter.

“That whole Detroit game last year in the snow was me sitting on the sidelines, watching him like a fan,” cornerback Brandon Boykin said with a smile. “He was jumping over people, cutting like there wasn’t snow out here and making people look crazy.”

That afternoon was a microcosm of the logic-defying skills that McCoy has displayed throughout his career.

But the sixth-year back doesn’t just coast on his spectacular talent. He capitalizes on it, working hard each and every day, never finding contentment in where he is as a running back.

There’s always another level.

Safety Malcolm Jenkins, who joined the team this offseason, had watched McCoy from afar over the years, facing off against him as recently as last year’s Wild Card playoff game as a member of the Saints. McCoy’s game seemed so effortless to Jenkins that he was amazed to see the running back’s work ethic in person.

“The one thing that surprised me when I got here, honestly, is how hard he actually works,” Jenkins said. “You hear him talking all of the time. You see what type of player he is. It seems effortless. It seems natural.

“When I got here in the offseason and got to see his work ethic, his drive and what he does in workouts, it made me have an appreciation for all of the work he’s done and all of the work he’s done this year because I know it’s well-earned. I know he works at it and it’s something he’s always trying to get better at, so he doesn’t coast off because of the success he’s had. He’s always trying to compete to be the best,” said Jenkins.

Running backs coach Duce Staley understands what it’s like to be an exceptionally talented Eagles running back. Staley ran with the Eagles for seven years, piling up nearly 5,000 yards, including three seasons in which he broke the 1,000-yard mark.

Staley was another agile back in the open field, not necessarily as shifty as McCoy, but extremely talented nonetheless. As he works with McCoy each day in training, he sees a running back – and, more importantly, a man – who knows the kind of work he has to put in to achieve what he believes he can achieve.

So far, Staley has seen nothing but the right moves from McCoy.

“It’s always been about hard work with LeSean,” said Staley, who ranks fifth in Eagles history with 4,807 rushing yards. “He’s supremely talented, yes, but what you have to understand is that he couldn’t get to this point without working extremely hard. He pushes himself. He’s a student of the game. He wants to be the best and stay the best. That takes dedication.”

McCoy is 26 years old. He already has one NFL rushing title under his belt. Since becoming the Eagles’ full-time starting running back in 2010, he has piled up more rushing yards than any running back in the league. And from now on, every game he plays in midnight green will add distance between him and second place.

But according to his teammates, McCoy doesn’t let the success go to his head. Never. Not LeSean.

“He’s really done a lot of things here. He’s had a lot of success, but there’s no falloff with him,” linebacker Mychal Kendricks said.

“He’s going to come in, and he’s going to work hard, as if he has nothing. As if he didn’t do anything yet. It’s humbling, you know? To achieve so much and still want to go out there and get it.”

McCoy, the man born with the talent that most players can only dream of, isn’t patting himself on the back just yet. Legions of young Eagles fans all over the country will idolize him as they grow up; imagining their own renditions of his famous cuts and jukes. But on Tuesday, December 9, McCoy walked into the NovaCare Complex as the leading rusher in franchise history, and, just like any other day, started training.

“He had a chance to be special when he came to the NFL and he’s developed himself with the work he’s put in,” Staley said. “I’m proud of him. He continues to work hard and get better and better. That’s the mark of the great, great players in this league. They are never content with where they are.”

Even, with the franchise record now in tow, McCoy is still nowhere near content.

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