|A Look At The Running Backs|
|22||R||Tough, inside power runner|
|22||R||Speedy, shifty all-purpose back|
|25||6||Could be another historic season ahead|
|24||3||Made the most of his 2013 touches|
|30||10||What role does Chip Kelly have in mind?|
|22||2||Preseason player to watch in second year|
THE BIG QUESTIONS
1. What's Next For LeSean McCoy?
Four years into an already impressive young career, LeSean McCoy submitted one of the more impressive individual seasons in franchise history in 2013, rushing for a franchise-record and league-leading 1,607 yards. In the process, McCoy also led the league with 314 carries (putting forth an impressive 5.1 yards per carry).
Entering 2014, there is no debate whether or not McCoy is one of the league's elite running backs. He's earned All-Pro honors in two of the past three seasons. He was named the FedEx Ground Player of the Year in those same campaigns. McCoy is on the verge of entering a different stratosphere. He is currently fourth on the Eagles' all-time rushing list with 5,473 yards behind Wilbert Montgomery (6,538), Brian Westbrook (5,995) and Steve Van Buren (5,860).
McCoy can catapult himself to the top of the leaderboard with 1,066 yards this season. If he just maintains his career average of 73.9 yards per game, McCoy will ascend the mountaintop late in the season.
The major question facing McCoy and the Eagles offense is just how exactly defenses will change their game plan against the Eagles with a full season's worth of tape and an offseason's worth of preparedness for Chip Kelly's second season. Will McCoy see even more defenders in the box devoted to stopping the run? For a position that is well settled as among the top units on the team, there remain many unanswered questions.
2. Will Darren Sproles Bring An Added Dimension To The Offense?
Part of the expected release of pressure on McCoy comes in the addition of Sproles, the dynamic running back who is the NFL’s leader in all-purpose yardage since 2007. That the Eagles parted with a fifth-round pick tells you that the team has a large role in mind for Sproles, who had no fewer than 71 receptions in each of his three seasons with the Saints.
Meanwhile, Sproles should be expected to contribute as a returner on special teams as well – which is something the Eagles are well aware of after his 39-yard kickoff return in the Wild Card round put New Orleans in great field position to set up the game-winning field goal as time expired.
3. Who Will Emerge From The Pack?
There are four running backs on the roster beyond McCoy and Sproles. Chris Polk, 24, did not contribute at all as a running back in his rookie season, but he forced his way onto the roster in 2013 on the heels of a strong preseason. Polk scored three touchdowns in 2014, but only carried the ball 11 times. Mathew Tucker spent a few games on the active roster in his rookie season after going undrafted out of TCU. He too will have an opportunity to impress in the preseason.
The Eagles added a pair of rookie free agents this offseason in David Fluellen and Henry Josey. Fluellen earned first-team All-MAC honors twice at Toledo. Despite missing four games due to injury, Fluellen churned out 1,121 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. As a junior in 2012, Fluellen ranked eighth in the nation averaging 124.8 yards per game. At 5-foot-11, 224 pounds, Fluellen will be a player to watch when the pads get popping. Meanwhile, Josey’s story is a remarkable one. After a knee injury nearly ended his football career, the 5-foot-8, 194-pound Josey rebounded in 2013 with 1,166 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. He became just the second running back in Missouri history to net two 1,000-yard campaigns.