On Wednesday morning, Chip Kelly praised running back LeSean McCoy, saying that his all-around ability as a blocker and pass-catcher had caught him by surprise. Later in the afternoon, McCoy spoke about how he has been striving to better his play in every facet, crediting a former teammate for being one of his biggest influences.
"(Blocking) was something new for me when I coming out of Pittsburgh," McCoy said after Wednesday's practice. "I wasn't really asked to block so much. Being around great backs like (Brian) Westbrook really taught me that to fit with this team you have to not leave the field. You have to work on blocking, running and catching, and just do everything that they ask. I'm just trying to be a complete back."
McCoy and Westbrook were teammates for just one season in Philadelphia, but McCoy views the time that the two spent together as invaluable. McCoy even took a page out of Westbrook's manual last Sunday, by securing a screen pass and picking up 44 yards on the opening play in Tampa Bay.
"Brian helped me out with so much," said McCoy. "(He helped me) with screens, how to be professional, how to take heat and be criticized and how to deal with it, how to take care of my body - just so much. I could sit up here and name things (all) day.
"Talking about that screen, he texted me after the game and said 'Come on bro, you're supposed to score on that play.' We talk, to this day, all the time, just to make me a better player. If I want to be even close to Brian, there are things that I still need to learn how to do. "
Aside from Westbrook, another person has also had a major influence on McCoy's excellent start to the 2013 season - Chip Kelly. The coach and running back are often seen talking and smiling on the sidelines, and McCoy explained how much he enjoys Kelly's attitude both as a play-caller and a coach.
"Coach (Kelly) is definitely tough," said McCoy. "There are times when it will be third-and-long, and we'll run the ball. His attitude is so aggressive, and I think that's why we love him so much. He has a player mentality - he wants to go out there and dominate as if he's playing, so a lot of his calls are really aggressive. … Sometimes he talks to me like he's out there running. We talk and he challenges me to do different things, and I like that … He takes a different approach than other coaches, because I think he wants me to be great. There are times where he'll ask me, 'How great do you want to be?' and things like that, and I like it."
Having an aggressive and personal head coach like Kelly certainly helps, but a healthy offensive line has also done wonders for the All-Pro running back.
"I'm just playing with confidence," McCoy said. "I think the biggest difference between this year and last year is that all of the linemen are healthy and that makes a big difference, and Coach Kelly has given me the opportunities to run the ball a little bit more. There are games where I know that I'm going to touch the ball."
Sunday's matchup against the Dallas Cowboys figures to be one of those games, with first place in the NFC East is on the line. The Eagles may have a bad taste in their mouths after the Cowboys took both meetings in 2012, but McCoy is focusing on the game at hand rather than looking back.
"I haven't even thought about (last season)," said McCoy. "You just reminded me of that. We just come each week ready to work and get ready for that game. The past is the past. There have been times when we've beaten teams and they came back and beat us (the next year), but we're not really worried about that. I think right now we have a chance to really takeover this division. (We need to) take things one game at a time, and that's what we're doing.
"It's a division game, so that tells you how important it is. You are playing a team twice a year and you know that team could be the difference in going to the playoffs. That shows how important this game really is."
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