Mike Tolbert can feel it coming.
In his eyes, LeSean McCoy can do it all. The Bills running back is catlike quick, able to cut on a dime (hence Shady’s Twitter handle) and shake off defenders with the slightest twitch and stutter-step.
Now, throw in a 250-pound fullback who loves to bulldoze any dude in his way ... well, then you’ve got something special, Tolbert said.
“He’s a multi-Pro Bowl, All-Pro back for a reason,” he said after McCoy’s 159 yards from scrimmage paced the Bills to a 21-12 win over the Jets Sunday and first place in the AFC East standings. “I’m not the same type of athlete. I’m a downhill type of athlete.
“It’s like thunder and lightning coming together. So when you have two things like that, it’s a big storm coming.”
McCoy was electrifying and downright dominant against the wayward Jets. He looked far younger than his 29 years and gave no indication that he couldn't be the same Shady of old at least for another season. And when a wrist injury – which occurred on a 3-yard run just short of the end zone – forced McCoy to leave briefly early in the fourth quarter, Tolbert capped their nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Their 1-2 combination could provide a big boost for a Bills team determined to run the ball, even against eight-man boxes. At least, that's the plan.
“It looks like it’s working out pretty good so far,” Tolbert said after he gained 42 yards on the ground and caught a 12-yard pass to complement McCoy’s stellar performance. “I mean, it’s still early. Shady is Shady. He is the guy. I’m just here to give him a little pat on the back.”
With his 27 touches on Sunday (22 carries and five catches), McCoy is on pace for 432 touches if he plays all 16 games. But who knows how the 5-9, 210-pound back will fare under the weight of such a heavy workload?
Naturally, McCoy shrugged off the perils of being an undersized back in the NFL, noting that his running style allows him to avoid the punishing hits.
But even with Shady as the obvious star on offense, Tolbert isn’t the least bit fazed about being underutilized. After signing a free-agent deal in March, the former Carolina Panther said he's eager to complement McCoy any way he can, adding that Buffalo “absolutely” is an ideal spot for him.
If the past is any indication, Tolbert should see plenty of touches.
McCoy’s previous backup, Mike Gillislee (now with the New England Patriots), carried the ball 101 times for 577 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016 and before him, Karlos Williams rushed for 517 yards and seven touchdowns on 93 carries in 2015.
In Carolina, Tolbert carried the ball 35 times for 114 yards and no touchdowns. He also caught 10 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown for the Panthers in 2016.