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For three stellar rookie RBs, it's touches and go

Back in August, it appeared as if rookies Chris Johnson, Steve Slaton and Felix Jones all had big obstacles to clear if they were going to get a fair share of carries.

These obstacles came in the form of teammates who were established veteran running backs -- LenDale White, Ahman Green and Marion Barber III.

But this is the new National Football League, where RBBC (running back by committee) is no longer an acronym that conjures negativity along the lines of DNP (did not play).

Johnson, selected 24th overall from East Carolina after clocking a blazing 4.24 seconds in the 40-yard dash at February's NFL Scouting Combine, leads the Tennessee Titans with 103 carries and 549 yards, which ranks fourth in the NFL. He's getting 17.2 carries per game and has scored three touchdowns -- five fewer than third-year man White, who because of that has still maintained considerable fantasy value despite a reduced workload.

Together, they rushed for 317 yards and four TDs Sunday at Kansas City.

Slaton, taken in the third round out of West Virginia, is the Texans' runaway leader with 89 carries for 423 yards and four TDs. That's 50 more carries and 245 more yards than Green, the 11th-year man who is closing in on 9,000 career rushing yards.

If you watched HBO Sports' "Hard Knocks" this summer, you saw just how excited everybody in Cowboys training camp -- from owner Jerry Jones on down to the water boys -- are about Felix Jones, who Dallas made the 22nd pick out of Arkansas.

Though he's expected to miss another three weeks with a hamstring injury, Felix Jones has already exhibited some big-league talent, carrying 30 times for 266 yards (8.9 yards per attempt) and three scores. When he gets back in the lineup, he'll likely spell Barber -- who is fifth in rushing with 128 carries for 540 yards -- more frequently as the team fights for a playoff spot.

The defending AFC champion New England Patriots appeared to have a crowded backfield a month ago, but injuries to Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan have created an opportunity for undrafted free agent BenJarvus Green-Ellis, a rookie from Mississippi -- where he was just the second player in school history to register 1,000 rushing yards twice.

Green-Ellis carried 13 times for 65 yards and a score Monday night against the Denver Broncos.


Sorting the Bills

The Dolphins are a middle-of-the-pack team defensively (21st in yardage, 27th against the pass, 12th versus the run and 14th in scoring defense).

But Miami has allowed some big individual efforts -- 379 passing yards by Houston's Matt Schaub and 361 by Arizona's Kurt Warner, as well as 105 rushing yards by Baltimore's Willis McGahee and 101 by Thomas Jones of the New York Jets in the opener.

Plus the Bills have won seven of eight in the series since 2004, highlighted by Marshawn Lynch (23 carries for 107 yards) and Fred Jackson (1 5/1 15) both breaking the century mark in a 38-17 victory last Dec. 9. Though Lynch has yet to better 83 yards in a game this season, it's worth noting that the first of his three 100-plus-yard efforts as a rookie didn't come until his eighth game of 2007.

Two of receiver Lee Evans' five top yardage days have come against Miami -- 117 yards on Dec. 4, 2005 and 110 on Dec. 5, 2004. In eight career games against the Dolphins, he has 25 receptions for 554 yards and eight scores, which is twice as many as he's tallied against any other foe.


Since you asked

Q: I was getting ready to waive New England quarterback Matt Cassel and then he threw three TD passes on Monday night. Should I keep him?

A: Without knowing your other options at QB, I'd say hold on to him for at least one more week. The Patriots host St. Louis on Sunday and the Rams are 25th against the pass.


Week Seven eye-popper

Proving that winless teams have some fantasy value, Detroit's Jason Hanson booted a pair of 54-yard field goals, to close the scoring in each half, during a 28-21 loss at Houston.

Though Hanson has attempted (and made) only eight field goals for the 0-6 Lions this season, he's 4 for 4 from 50 yards or beyond and has tried only one kick from closer than 40 yards. Going back to last season, the 17-year veteran of the Lions is 7 for 8 from 50 yards or more.


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