LeSean McCoy is enjoying a breakout rookie season for the Eagles. He is second among all rookies in yards from scrimmage with 399, trailing only Denver's Knowshon Moreno, and he has proved to be a worthy replacement for Brian Westbrook.
But there is a big disparity in McCoy's production depending on whether he has the full week to practice as the number one running back. In the four games that Westbrook has missed, McCoy is averaging 79.8 yards on the ground at 5.0 yards per carry. In the six games where McCoy has shared the backfield with his mentor, he's averaging only 22.2 rushing yards on a paltry 3.2 yards per carry.
"I think it's just the preparation," McCoy said. "You get to run with the (number one offense) the whole time, get the full flow and get every single rep so you kind of expect and know what's going to happen. So I think there is kind of a difference, knowing you're going to get to warm up and get a couple carries, get into the mix. I think coming off the bench, it's like you know you're going to play, but you don't really know when or what time of the game, so it's kind of different."
In other words, the precocious 21-year-old running back knows his Philadelphia sports history - we're talking about practice.
"From mini-camp to now, I think my progression is amazing," McCoy said. "I learned so much, learned so much more than I knew coming in here, just the little stuff. With Brian (Westbrook), having him in my ear every week, I talk to him and he coaches me up and I actually watch him. I think the more I see him play and the more I play myself, get the experience, the better I feel."
Something else to keep an eye on with McCoy, like every rookie, is how his body holds up to the rigors of his first NFL season. Even though McCoy is now at the point of the season when his college season would be winding to a close, he has gotten as many in-game reps as he did at Pittsburgh.
"So far I think I'm holding up pretty well," he said. "I'm just starting right now to get touches, to start feeling sore and beat down. My body's actually feeling pretty good, doing pretty well. I think the more you play, blocking and getting tackled, it kind of wears on you, but for right now I feel fine."
The Eagles will be counting on the youngster's fresh legs this week against a Redskins' defense that ranks fourth in the league in total yardage. In their first meeting this season, McCoy ran for only 37 yards on 14 carries (2.6 yards per carry), but that was a week that McCoy spent splitting reps in practice with Westbrook. But this time around, McCoy's got the running back spot to himself, and, if past production is any indication, practice will make perfect.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 2:34 p.m., November 25