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YARDS FROM SCRIMMAGE CONSTITUTE BEST CAREER BAROMETER

Question: I notice that Eric Moulds is on the verge of 10,000 all-purpose yards. Where does that place him in team history? How many NFL players have accomplished that? How many with just one team? -- H. Kauderer, Buffalo

Answer: Moulds has 10,124 all-purpose yards, counting receiving yards, rushing yards and return yards. He gained 2,126 yards returning kickoffs his first two seasons. He's fourth on the Bills all time in all-purpose yards. He's closing in on the top 50 all time. Of course, he's not likely to get any more kickoff return yards. Bobby Mitchell is the NFL's all-time leader in all-purpose yards with 23,330, which includes 14,014 yards in kickoff returns.

I don't look upon all-purpose yards as a very significant statistic. Yards from scrimmage are more important because rushing and receiving yards are much harder earned than kick return yards. The top Bills in scrimmage yards are: Thurman Thomas (16,279), Andre Reed (13,595), O.J. Simpson (12,107) and Moulds (7,998). Moulds is 65th all time in receiving yards.

Thomas' total for scrimmage yards is what should make him a slam dunk for the Hall of Fame. He's seventh all time and sixth among running backs with 16,532.

The only backs with 12,000 rushing yards and at least 4,000 receiving yards are Walter Payton, Marcus Allen and Thomas. (Marshall Faulk will be joining that group in a couple of weeks. Faulk is at 11,744 rushing yards.)

Q: Do you think Terrence McGee will only find playing time as kick returner soon? His coverage was poor all day against the Jets. If his playing time gets cut, who can step in and play? -- Ryan Dee, Clearwater, Fla.

A: The Bills are sticking with McGee for now because they've seen enough good play out of him the past five weeks to make them think he can do the job. No question, the Jets game was awful for him. But he made some good plays against New England and Baltimore.

Young cornerbacks are going to struggle at times. Nate Odomes and Thomas Smith got picked on plenty their first seasons on the field. McGee is promising because he's a good athlete and he's got a football mentality. He's tough. He also makes plays on the ball.

In training camp, he showed the ability to be in position, look up at the ball at the right time and make a play on it. That's something some guys -- ex-Bill J.D. Williams, to use one example -- never get.

If McGee has another Jets-type outing he will have to sit. But if the Bills can get more interceptions from free safety it would be a big help. Hence, the idea to shift Troy Vincent. The plan to shift Vincent also is a vote of confidence in Jabari Greer and Kevin Thomas, who would see more time in the nickel and dime defense.

Q: Why has Daimon Shelton not run the ball yet this year? I would love on short yardage for him to run a quick hit straight ahead. He has shown good hands and feet catching the ball. Why not make him a running threat also? -- Joe Holtzinger, Camp Hill, Pa.

A: The answer is simply they'd much rather let Willis McGahee run and Shelton block. The talent of McGahee to find a hole and make yards far outweighs the surprise element of the quick-hitting fullback plunge.

You probably see it more in college because there's more likely to be a big mismatch, at times, of a center or guard on a defensive tackle than in the pros. Very few teams run the fullback in the NFL.

"My carries are the little flat passes and swing passes that I get," Shelton said. "Those are my handoffs."
Bills beat reporter Mark Gaughan answers your football questions every Friday. Send your e-mails to mgaughan@buffnews.com or mail to Question Mark, The Buffalo News Sports Department, One News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, NY 14240.

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