Before training camp, the best backs in recent memory believed 27-year-old LeSean McCoy still had a lot to give. But he's still 27. He still has 1,808 career touches. There's a fear with all backs at this point in their career that the wheels could fall off without warning.
As one personnel executive said then, "Once his quickness goes, that’s it for him."
So McCoy injuring his hamstring on Aug. 18 isn't exactly a good omen. Not to mention the Bills have invested a five-year, $40 million contract in the back. McCoy has eased his way back to the practice field and is hopeful for Week 1 against Indianapolis. Big picture, running backs coach Anthony Lynn sees a player still in his prime.
Even if that quickness could go at some point.
"That could be true. But that quickness is still there," Lynn said. "That’s one of the things I’ve been most impressed with — his speed through the hole. His speed through the hole and his ability to win one-on-one’s is still there.”
Lynn actually believes the two weeks off could've helped McCoy. He sees a benefit in rest for the veteran.
And in coaching backs with the New York Jets (2009- '13), Cleveland (2007- '08), Dallas (2005- '06) and Jacksonville (2003- '04), and spending six year in the league (including three with Terrell Davis in Denver), McCoy's game stands out.
"You’ve always had the Marshall Faulks, the Barry Sanders and he fits into that mold," Lynn said. "He’s shifty. He can win his one-on-one’s and when you get him to the second level in space, he’s a ‘space back.’”
Lynn believes McCoy is "absolutely" still in his prime. He's been impressed, particularly, with McCoy's willingness to take on linebackers as a blocker in pass protection.
It doesn't sound like McCoy will be taken off the field much.
"Sometimes, that’s a 40-50 pound disadvantage," Lynn said. "You don’t see a mismatch like that anywhere else on the field. A lot of guys of his caliber, they won’t stick their face in there. So you have to take them out and get that blue-collar guy in there who will.
"But he will. Yeah. I’ve been very impressed. He takes pride in it.”
It's been a strange summer at running back for the Bills. McCoy (hamstring), Bryce Brown (hamstring), Karlos Williams (undisclosed) and ex-Bill Fred Jackson (hamstring) all missed stretches of practiced. Asked if everyone is healthy for Week 1, Lynn repeated "just about."
Said the coach, "This is my first time in 23 years as a coach and a player that I’ve seen that many backs go down at one time — I’ve never seen that before. So I’m just glad it happened then and we can move on.”