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Offseason Preview: Backfield

Posted Jan 9, 2013

The offseason is well underway for the Philadelphia Eagles. As the team begins its preparations for the 2013 season, PhiladelphiaEagles.com takes a position-by-position look at the roster. Here's a look at the running back position ...

End Of Season Depth Chart: The Eagles entered the 2012 season knowing they had one of the best running backs in the game in LeSean McCoy. But what they didn’t know is how the position would shake out behind their All-Pro. Second-year man Dion Lewis showed flashes in 2011, but to bolster the position, the Eagles drafted an under-the-radar talent in Bryce Brown and signed rookie free agent Chris Polk.

McCoy missed four games with a concussion sustained in Week 10, but he still rushed for 840 yards and two touchdowns. Filling in for McCoy during that time was Brown, who became one of the most impressive and unexpected storylines of the Eagles’ season. In his first professional start in Week 11 on Monday Night Football, Brown ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns. He followed that up the next week by running for another 169 yards and two scores against the Cowboys. Brown now owns two of the team’s top 15 rushing performances of all time.

Lewis and Polk played sparingly, but provide the Eagles with a nice change-of-pace dynamic. Lewis is a fast and shifty back, while Polk brings a straight-ahead power running style. In fact, Polk spent time in practice at fullback toward the end of the season. The group is rounded out by fullback Stanley Havili, who spent the 2011 season on the practice squad before taking over the fullback job full time, and the versatile Emil Igwenagu, who also has experience at tight end.

Running back may be the deepest and most talented position on the team. The next regime will certainly look to make improvements everywhere, but for now, the Eagles should be able to move forward with confidence with their players in the backfield. After all, they have one of the best backs in the NFL and a cadre of impressive and versatile talent behind him.

Player To Watch In Offseason: In his first two NFL starts, Brown rushed for a combined 347 yards and four touchdowns. As impressive as this is, Brown’s accomplishments were marred by his three combined fumbles in those games. Brown has the raw talent to be an impact player in the league, but the key for him will be to spend the offseason focusing on ball security.

The good news for Brown is that backs like Adrian Peterson and Tiki Barber have proven that fumbling can be corrected with diligent offseason work and coaching. If Brown can display improved ball security, the Eagles could be sitting pretty with the best stable of running backs in all the NFL.

Free Agents To Be: All six of the Eagles’ running backs and fullbacks are signed through 2013, something that should excited prospective head coaches. Last offseason, McCoy signed a deal that will keep him in Philadelphia through the 2017 season.

Best Performance: No one was sure how Brown would perform in the first start of his NFL career. After all, he hadn’t started a game since high school. But if he had any skeptics before that game against the Panthers, he certainly didn’t after. Brown carried 19 times for a whopping 178 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 9.4 yards per carry and had a 65-yard touchdown run. That performance set an Eagles rookie record and is the 10th-highest total in team history.

Noteworthy Stat: In his first two starts against the Panthers and Cowboys, Brown rushed for a combined 347 yards. That marks the second-highest total ever by an Eagle in consecutive games. Who holds the record? None other than Hall of Fame running back Steve Van Buren, who ran for 379 yards in back-to-back games way back in 1949.

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