Shady or ... good luck moving the football on the ground.
That's been the mantra for the Buffalo Bills' running back position the past three years. The 2018 season doesn't look as if it will be an exception.
In fact, it's fair to say how LeSean McCoy performs this season will, more than ever, determine the success of the Bills' offense, if not the entire team. With uncertainty at quarterback, and the distinct possibility of a rookie starter, new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will likely place the heaviest load on McCoy that the running back has had to carry in his time with the Bills.
McCoy turns 30 on July 12. History shows, at that age, running backs have a tendency to slow down and become more prone to injury.
Through offseason practices that were open to the media, McCoy showed no signs of losing even an ounce of speed, burst or agility. Whenever he broke into the open field, which was often, he easily sprinted away from defenders. Granted, these were non-contact sessions, so it's hard to make definitive judgements.
But this much is known: McCoy takes tremendous care of his body. He puts in considerable time, on his own and at the Bills' facility, in the weight room and with cardiovascular work. He's determined to show he can be as effective as any running back five or eight years his junior, and with 10,000 career rushing yards, he is locked in on getting to 12,000.
However, McCoy will need help from an offensive line that is rebuilding after the offseason departures of center Eric Wood, guard Richie Incognito and tackle Cordy Glenn. Not surprisingly, McCoy was fairly outspoken about the losses of Wood and Incognito when speaking with reporters during the mandatory minicamp. He pointed out that most of the yards he has gained with the Bills were behind Incognito.
McCoy isn't the only one who is well aware of the impact the line's overhaul could have on the running game.
"All good running backs usually have a good offensive line in front of them as well," coach Sean McDermott told reporters last week. "We’ve got to piece this thing together the right way and play good team football."