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A Look At Rookie Running Backs

LeSean McCoy had already made history before he stepped on the practice field for the first time as a Philadelphia Eagle. As a second-round pick, the 53rd overall selection in this year's draft, McCoy was chosen with the highest draft pick to ever be used on a running back in the Andy Reid era. Not even All-Pro Brian Westbrook, a third-round selection, was drafted that high.

The need for depth at the position in the off-season was apparent. Correll Buckhalter departed for a chance to start in Denver. The only other running back on the roster with experience in the Eagles offense was Lorenzo Booker.


RB LeSean McCoy

"We drafted McCoy, obviously, for a reason, and that's to work in and play," head coach Andy Reid said. "And so, I think what I've seen from him, and these camps are good if you're looking at the skill position players, you get an idea of what they can do and see what their strengths and weaknesses are there. I like what I've seen from him."

So, what has he seen?

"Great change of direction, ability to catch the football." Reid added. "We're asking him to do a lot of things formation-wise; he's able to handle that. He wants to learn, and has enough aptitude to learn. And so, he's really done well."

The question now is how long is it before McCoy is expected to make an impact on the offense. Westbrook underwent ankle surgery earlier this month and the Eagles are optimistic that he will be fine for the start of the regular season. And as good as McCoy looked in the Organized Team Activities, he will need to prove it with the pads on during training camp and the preseason in order to earn playing time.

"It's hard to talk about whether I'm going to play immediately if I don't know what I'm doing," McCoy said. "We have to get that squared off first then further down the line we'll know more about it. I'm doing pretty good I think. Everyday I'm getting better and better. Fewer errors, especially mental errors."

Here's a look at how rookie running backs have done under Andy Reid, the best seasons by a rookie running back in Eagles history and last year's top rookie runners ...

Rookie Running Backs Under Andy Reid
Year Name Att. Yards TDs
1999 Cecil Martin (FB) 3 3 0
2001 Correll Buckhalter 129 586 2
2002 Brian Westbrook 46 193 0
2004 Thomas Tapeh (FB) 12 42 0
2005 Ryan Moats 55 278 3
2007 Tony Hunt 10 16 1

Most Rushing Yards By A Rookie In Eagles' History
No. Name Year Yards
1 Correll Buckhalter 2001 586
2 Keith Byars (FB) 1986 577
3 Po James (FB) 1972 565
4 Mike Hogan (FB) 1976 561
5 Billy Barnes 1957 529
6 Clarence Peaks 1957 495
7 Steve Van Buren 1944 444

Most Rushing Attempts By A Rookie In Eagles' History
No. Name Year Att.
1 Po James (FB) 1972 182
2 Keith Byars (FB) 1986 177
3 Lee Bouggess (FB) 1970 159
4 Billy Barnes 1957 143
5 James Joseph 1991 135
6 Correll Buckhalter 2001 129
7 Clarence Peaks 1957 125

Top 10 Rookie Running Backs In 2008
No. Name Team Att. Yds. Avg. TD
1 Steve Slaton HOU 268 1,282 4.8 9
2 Matt Forte CHI 316 1,238 3.9 8
3 Chris Johnson TEN 251 1,228 4.9 9
4 Kevin Smith DET 238 976 4.1 8
5 Jonathan Stewart CAR 184 836 4.5 10
6 Darren McFadden OAK 113 499 4.4 4
7 Tashard Choice DAL 92 472 5.1 2
8 Ray Rice BAL 107 454 4.2 0
9 Tim Hightower ARI 143 399 2.8 10
10 Jamaal Charles KC 67 357 5.3 0

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