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Rise Of Eagles Equals McCoy's Next Steps

It was quite a debut, wasn't it? A first-time starter for an entire season, running back LeSean McCoy averaged 5.2 yards per carry, led the Eagles with 78 receptions and topped the NFC, fourth in the NFL, in yards from scrimmage. In an offense loaded with talent, McCoy's production was a vital part to the equation.

The best is yet to come.

As important as last year's offseason was to McCoy, once it became apparent that he would be the go-to running back with Brian Westbrook released, these next several months are even more important as McCoy looks to ascend to the next level. He is one of the best in the league right now. Is it impossible to think he might become the very best?

Not at all. McCoy has some work to do, but you see that he has the total package: Vision, toughness, great quickness and enough speed to get down the field. Plus, he is an instinctive runner. He is, as they say, a natural.

So what are the Eagles going to do with McCoy?

This is not a Brian Westbrook situation. Westbrook, a marvelous talent, was fine China, a priceless player in the offense who needed to be used every game just enough and not too much. He wasn't dainty, not by any means, but the concern with Westbrook was always his durability. The Eagles needed him on the field every week. They had to make sure not to overuse him.

McCoy, on the other hand, is going to be a sturdy 215-pound running back if he follows orders in the offseason and hits the weight room hard and builds up his thigh strength, his core, his ability to run through tackles. If there is one thing McCoy needs to improve, it is his strength running through defenders, bullying for the extra yard and absorbing contact.

There is always going to be the concern about holding the football like a loaf of bread, but sometimes perception isn't reality: McCoy has averaged 120 touches per every fumble. As a comparison, Duce Staley averaged 81.9 touches per fumble in his Eagles career, while Westbrook averaged 144.6 touches per fumble.

McCoy has to tuck the ball away more securely, no question. He had the ball knocked away in the playoff loss to the Packers, but the Eagles retained possession. Still ...

"I have a lot of things I need to improve on," said McCoy toward the end of the season. "I'm looking to get better every day. The job is never done. I know that."

So what the Eagles have, and they know it, is a player who has the most rushing yards and the most yards from scrimmage in franchise history for a player who has been here for two seasons. McCoy is a special player. Can he carry the football 20-25 times every game?

His history says so. McCoy had 584 carries in two seasons at the University of Pittsburgh. He added 65 catches and scored a whopping 36 total touchdowns in those two years.

McCoy's workload has been moderate as an Eagle. His 285 touches in 2010 ranked far less than the most Westbrook ever had -- 368 in 2007 -- and so there is room for growth. Of course, the Eagles have other weapons who need their touches, and that is a balance the offensive coaching staff needs to achieve.

No question, though, as the Eagles evaluate 2010 and move on to 2011 -- in time, in time -- McCoy is a central figure. Did they hand off the ball to him enough in '10? How much more can he handle in 2011?

McCoy is a player around whom the offense needs to continue to grow and develop. He is the franchise running back just about to enter the prime of what appears to be a wonderful career ahead and the Eagles should not be hesitant to max out his talents in the coming seasons.

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