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Bills have to resist overusing Shady this year

Sean McDermott was asked during his Wednesday morning news conference how he planned to handle the work load for tailback Sean McCoy this year, especially after the departure of his backup. I'm not sure if the questioner was referring to Jonathan Williams or Mike Gillislee, but it's a good question.

McDermott, of course, chose to answer in coach speak. He's well-versed in giving unilluminating answers to reporters' questions. He's like an NFL veteran head man in that regard.

"The work load, whatever it takes to win the game," McDermott said. "That's how we play the game. We play to win, and whatever it takes to win the game, that's what we're going to do. If it means he needs to play every snap, that's what we'll do. If he's feeling good, like it is for every player.

"Look him in the eye, say 'How you feel? Feel good. Let's go.' No different for LeSean."

There's no question that McCoy is a dynamic back, one who ran for 1,267 yards and 13 TDs last year and averaged 5.4 yards a carry. But McDermott has to be careful not to overuse him this season. Teams will be keying on the Bills' top-rated running game, especially with the lack of downfield receivers for Tyrod Taylor.

Shady Speaks: LeSean McCoy on embracing Buffalo, making an impact, and the playoffs

The Bills need production from their backup running backs more than ever. The problem is, they won't be as good as they have in recent years. It was no accident that they led the NFL in rushing and yards per carry the last two seasons. They had the most dynamic backup in the league both seasons:

Karlos Williams in 2015: 517 yards, 5.6 yards per rush. Mike Gillilslee in 2016: 577 yards, 5.7 yards per rush.

Who is going to put up those kinds of numbers behind McCoy this season? Joe Banyard? There's a feeling that fullback Mike Tolbert might have a prominent role. Tolbert had 114 yards and averaged 3.3 yards a carry in Carolina last season. McDermott was asked if he had decided whether McCoy or Tolbert would get the bulk of carries near the goal-line.

"No, it's all part of the game plan," McDermott said. "That'll be worked out through the week. But as I've said before, the great thing about both those guys is they put the team first. That's the approach of the whole football team, it's a team-first mentality."

Well, if he's worried about the team, he should be wary of overusing McCoy. Shady has averaged 19 touches a game as a Bill, counting rushing attempts and receptions. In his last two seasons with the Eagles, it was 22 a game. I can see him getting worn down or hurt if it goes much higher than 20 this year.

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