There's no question that one of the biggest storylines heading into camp is the development and integration of rookie Running Back LeSean McCoy. No running back has ever been selected higher in the draft under Andy Reid, and the Pitt product figures to be very important to the success of a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Even though Brian Westbrook is expected to be ready for opening day, the ideal situation for the Eagles is to have a complementary back to keep Westbrook fresh for the full season – and that's precisely what McCoy is expected to do.
The Eagles, and Eagles fans, are hoping that McCoy is the perfect backup to Westbrook because he seems to have a similar skill set which should allow the offense to remain the same when the rookie is on the field. Like Westbrook, McCoy is an elusive runner who can be effective both outside and in between the tackles, and he also proved in college to be an effective pass-catcher out of the backfield - just like Westbrook. Adding to the excitement is the prevailing notion that running back has been the easiest position for rookies to make a mark in recent years. But there are still several hurdles that stand between McCoy and productivity.
The biggest obstacle that faces the man affectionately known as "Shady" is blitz pickup education. Since McCoy was such a dominant runner in college, he spent his games carrying and catching the football, not diverting oncoming pass rushers. But we all know how important a skill that is for running backs in the NFL, especially in this offense, and McCoy will spend the better part of training camp getting his crash course in crashing into defenders. The Eagles also face a delicate balance with McCoy in the preseason concerning his workload. Since McCoy is expected to get most of the first-team reps in Westbrook's absence, it will be important for him to get enough experience in the offense while still staying fresh for the full season ahead. But there seems to be no lack of confidence in McCoy on the Eagles part, they've declined to add a veteran backup to accompany McCoy this off-season which should signal to the rookie that much is expected of him. In other words, once training camp starts, Shady will be the one in the spotlight.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 2:50 p.m., July 23